Life Skills Class For Payson High School Students Proposed

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Step away from that Big Mac Payson High School students.

The school board may push students to imbibe responsible life habits — both with eating and finances.

Middle school students have traditionally taken a life skills class where they learn about those subjects, including how much house they can afford, but some school board members want to see those lessons reinforced in high school.

Member Richard Meyer on Monday pushed to start a new required course with a free curriculum available, although other board members questioned whether they should subject students to another class when kids seldom heed adult wisdom.

The discussion reflected a national movement to change people’s eating habits. As obesity continues to rise, more and more studies are showing the economic and social costs of too much extra weight.

Nationally, about 17 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 9 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The district will also soon learn if it will receive a $1.4 million grant to spend over three years to expand physical education offerings and build things like a ropes course.

The board reached no decision on Monday because the meeting was a work-study session and no vote was scheduled.

However, Superintendent Casey O’Brien said he’d talk with teachers about incorporating the themes into existing classes, although he didn’t recommend adding an entire new class.

“The kids are getting this,” said member Barbara Underwood about the middle school class.

“If it’s important to you, you’re going to learn it.”

Board member Rory Huff agreed. “If it’s not, then you won’t.”

Meyer grew excited, his voice louder.

“These are kids, they don’t know what they want,” he said, adding that the lessons needed reinforcing.

“They don’t know. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be eating Big Macs and french fries every day at lunch.”

Huff pointed out, “We’re eating candy right now.”

People make poor choices when they know better all the time, Huff said. For instance, he often sees nurses smoking cigarettes on break outside the hospital.

Kids will do what they want, he added.

Meyer said he didn’t like the philosophy that the district should simply offer lessons and hope the kids learn them.

“Our obligation is to make sure they learn it,” he said.

Huff countered, “Have you ever heard the saying you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink?”

You can, said Meyer. “Give the horse a lot of salt.”

O’Brien said that he would talk with teachers about incorporating personal finance lessons into economics, a required course, and that perhaps physical education teachers could pass on the message of baked potato over french fry.

Board member Viki Holmes mentioned a grant recently received by the Payson Public Library, which ran classes targeted to teenagers from 13 to 18 that touched on similar themes. Perhaps the district could partner with an outside agency like the library, suggested Holmes.

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