New Class Combines Fitness and Leadership

Students+interview+a+subject+for+an+Opinions+article+in+Skills+teacher+Christa+Wemmer%27s+new+class+Leadership.+The+class+helps+students+gain+confidence+in+themselves+through+activities+on+leadership+as+well+as+health+and+fitness.+Photo+by+Francesca+Fallow.+

Students interview a subject for an Opinions article in Skills teacher Christa Wemmer’s new class Leadership. The class helps students gain confidence in themselves through activities on leadership as well as health and fitness. Photo by Francesca Fallow.

The word leadership is often associated with power, control and radiant confidence. It can be difficult for some students to identify with this model, and sometimes they don’t know how they can become a strong leader themselves. To help bridge the gap between a student’s ideas of leadership and reality, social studies teacher Christa Wemmer established the new Leadership class this year, a seventh period class consisting of sophomores and juniors who learn about fitness and how to get involved on campus.

“I really wanted to work with a group of students and work on health and fitness,” Wemmer said. “I did this before at another high school where I taught students to run and lift weights and I saw incredible results in health, fitness, self-esteem and being connected as a group, so I wanted to do something similar here.”

During seventh period, Wemmer pours her passion for teaching fitness, health and leadership skills into the new class. Many of her students are from her former Skills classes, several of whom are still currently in the Skills or AVID programs. Leadership offers all students a chance to gain health and fitness habits along with leadership skills and community participation.

“I always wanted to be a leader and I didn’t know how or how to get involved,” junior Natalie Munguia said. “I just felt [that joining] ASB [would be] a little too stressful, so then I decided to join Leadership. So far, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences which [have] affected me to be a better person academically and socially.”

Wemmer was inspired to pilot the course after realizing that many of her Skills students lacked a strong connection on campus.

“I think the biggest thing is to be part of Los Altos High School and to be doing something positive that helps the school while giving back and taking on that leadership role,” Wemmer said. “A lot of the students that are in the class are not in a sport, extracurricular or club, and so I think a big goal is getting them connected more to the campus.”

In this community, students are exposed to some of these options while taking care of their health and fitness.

“I’d like them to see the importance of nutrition and exercise,” Wemmer said. “We’ve talked about diets a lot and I think just being more aware of what you put in your body and how it affects you health-wise, stress-wise and your energy level [is a] big goal.”

On most days, the students begin class with a warm-up jog or track workout around the school. The class then moves into the dance room where Wemmer leads free-weight workouts, focusing on the entire body.

“I liked working out before, but I didn’t really understand why I should work out,” Natalie said. “I just thought it was fun, but now I’m learning how to be healthy and that’s more important. I’m taking it more seriously and so I’ve been exercising more and eating healthy.”

On other days, the class will meet in the classroom to work on nutrition lessons focused on different topics. During these sessions, the students will often plan different campus events that impact the student body. Working with other student groups, such as LSU and ASB, they help plan and organize events like Family Skills Night, Spirit week and the Holiday Fair. These events are a chance for Leadership students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to reality.

“This class has taught me a lot,” said sophomore Ashly Salgado Cruz. “It has also really helped me with my shyness… this class forces you, in a good way, to interact with others on campus. It [involves] a lot of interaction with other clubs, school officials, and just students in general. It really helped me get out of my shell and become more social.”

The true colors of the class come through with the passion and enthusiasm these students carry and the support they have for each other, while getting to play a more integral role on campus. Since joining the class, many students have gained interest in joining other school programs and various school sports.

“They love participating,” Wemmer said. “That’s the strength of the class. Now they want to do events and they want to be visible on campus and I wasn’t expecting what I’ve found… I feel like we’ve tapped into something they want to do.”