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Fitness classes aim to improve Rainier students’ health and well-being

By Jasmine Chinn and Ismael Navarrete

Staff Writers

Two groups of students line up on either side of the net — each team eyeing the other and preparing to start the game. The ball is served high and brought down with a smash. The ball comes crashing down, only to be bumped up by a player on the other side of the net. The volleyball students move around, trying to outmatch the opposing team. The ball hits the ground, and the point is called. The victorious group stays on the field as another group comes to challenge them, a feeling of fun competition in the air. 

Expeditions teacher Kina Mirzapour
PHOTO CREDIT: Jasmine Chinn

Expeditions teacher Kina Mirzapour is currently the Outdoor Volleyball teacher. She said, “We need to be active to live a happy, healthy life, and mentally it’s really important that we’re moving around, regardless if it’s volleyball or just running or anything.”

Ms. Mirzapour thinks this course promotes education, especially in a place where there is no physical education, saying it is really great to have that time outside because it shows that humans need some outside exercise. 

Outdoor Volleyball is one of two new Expeditions fitness courses offered at Summit Rainier this school year; the other is Swimming and Safety. Expeditions are a group of two-week periods where students engage in their elective courses. 

In the fall of 2019, the original Swimming and Safety teacher left the school and the class spent their time with a substitute teacher. Currently, the new Swimming and Safety teacher, Monique Avila, wants her students to focus on their mental health. 

Expeditions teacher Monique Avila
PHOTO CREDIT: Ismael Navarrete

Ms. Avila said,The things we can do to, like, to help our mental health when you go to the doctor, making sure you are physically healthy, there are going to be ways to check in with ourselves and with our peers, to make sure that we are mentally healthy.” 

Expeditions courses such as Swimming and Safety and Outdoor Volleyball impact the community because they help students to feel relieved and active outside of regular classes, helping them academically, mentally, and physically.  

These Expeditions courses help students academically because sports such as swimming and volleyball encourage students to keep on task with their classrooms and keep them energized, which helps them to pursue their daily lives and focus in school. 

Rainier senior Sebastian Gamble
Ismael Navarrete

A Rainier senior and Swimming and Safety student, Sebastian Gamble, explained, “For me, I feel a lot more energized, which helped make me more energized. And whenever I bike to school, I feel energized to go to school, and when I swim, specifically, I feel energized to go and continue on my day doing other stuff.” 

Rainier junior Luis Cruz
Jasmine Chinn

A Rainier junior and Outdoor Volleyball student, Luis Cruz, said, “Volleyball impacts me academically by keeping my grades in check, because I’m in boys volleyball and I have to keep my grades up and my checkpoints, including my red projects in check, because if  I don’t, then I fail.” 

These Expeditions courses help students mentally through their everyday life at school, which helps them focus in school and allows them to have a clear focus in their lives. Swimming and Safety and Outdoor Volleyball benefit students physically because these courses keep them active in school. Improving the community through the exercise the students get, these Expeditions courses, as well as outside activities, help students and everyone in the community.

Ms. Avila said,We are reflecting on the things that make us happy. We are reflecting on signs of mental health problems and how we can go about helping them in different resources we can take advantage of.” 

When asked about how Swimming and Safety impacts him mentally, Gamble said, “It helps me a lot. I know that exercising can be very beneficial for your mental health as well as your body.” 

An Outdoor Volleyball student passes the ball to the other side of the net in a morning practice.
Jasmine Chinn

Ms. Mirzapour explained how she mentally impacts her students by letting them spend their time playing outside. She tries to stay away from being in the classroom too much and only spends about 30 minutes in the classroom working on final products and checkpoints. She mainly wants them to play outside because this is a class called “outdoor volleyball,” not “classroom volleyball”.

Ms. Mirzapour said, “I hope that they pursue sports on another level, and I hope that they continue to engage in physical activity because, being in charge of a school with no physical education, it really hurts them from learning how to work out properly, and I hope that they take a lot from this and spend more time outside, because that’s really important, whether it’s just sitting outside or working out outside. Just being outside is way better than finishing Netflix on your couch.” 

Expeditions teacher Kina Mirzapour plays volleyball with her Outdoor Volleyball students.
Jasmine Chinn

Cruz explained, “It helps, like it clears my mind a lot, so it helps me when I get sad; it helps to get all a lot of that sadness out.”

Ms. Avila said, “Swimming keeps you healthy because it is going to get your heart rate up really good like a good form of cardio, as well as like strength training overall — really good activity for your health. And it has a low impact on your joints and your, on your body, because you tend to be lighter in the water.” 

Ms. Avila explained how she impacts her students physically by giving them a daily check-in at the end of their activity and having them do a reflection. They then do a physical fitness tracker to monitor what they are doing, when are they doing it and how it makes them feel, and then compile it into a graph chart. She wants the students to figure out how they can feed their mental and physical health.

Rainier junior Phillip Diep serves a volleyball to the opposing team.
Ismael Navarrete

Cruz said, “Physically, it keeps me energetic like especially when I feel lazy, it just wakes me up. And I feel energetic throughout the day.”

Ms. Avila said, “I think swimming, like in a classroom setting, really bonds people together. So I think it will strengthen the community. ”

For her, personally, she feels responsible for teaching her students to be confident when swimming and to be able to recognize an emergency and act accordingly. 

Gamble said, “I would like to say it gets a lot more people into, not necessarily sports, but into exercise because I know that we don’t have a PE course. So really having an Expedition class can help a lot of people get introduced into more diverse sports like water polo or just swimming in general.” 

Cruz said in his opinion about how Outdoor Volleyball helps the community: “This course influences the community because it might interest others in wanting to play too.”

Expeditions teacher Kina Mirzapour passes the volleyball to her students in a morning practice.
Jasmine Chinn

Ms. Mizapour explained, “It’s really important especially kids get that time outside especially with all of this technology. It keeps us healthy by being outside, being active, and it really helps us with our community.”

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