Students pursue passion for athletics in Foothill’s ISPE program

Maddie Kirkegaard

From boxing to figure skating, students in Foothill’s ISPE program participate in a wide variety of activities more unconventional than the average high school student.

Many students at Foothill participate in sports at Ventura or Buena High School, but the students enrolled in Foothill’s Independent Study Physical Education program, or ISPE, enjoy the freedom to excel in the activity of their choice.

Students in 9th and 10th grade participate in a number of activities such as boxing, jiu jitsu, equestrian, golf, surfing, dance, crossfit, rock climbing, gymnastics, and figure skating through the ISPE program, which allows them to focus on the activity of their choice while fulfilling the P.E. requirements for graduating.

“The benefit of ISPE is that students can follow their passion for athletics. They can specialize in what they love to do. A lot of students choose Foothill for that reason,” ISPE teacher Emily Stevens said.

Stevens was asked to organize the program because of Foothill’s shortage of P.E. facilities, which can only accommodate one class at a time.

The ISPE program also helps students find more time to do school work in their busy schedules of after school activities.

Sophomore Taylor Wachold is a dedicated gymnast enrolled in the ISPE program. She participates in several major competitions from January to March. The ISPE program helps her fit schoolwork into her busy gymnastics schedule.

“I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was three and I have a lot of practices; ISPE lets me get out at two so I have more time to practice,” Wachold said.

For Wachold, competing is her favorite part of gymnastics. She has participated in many out-of-state competitions in places such as Pennsylvania, New Orleans, New York, Texas, and Nevada.

“I like competing and traveling to competitions in different places. It feels good when you do well in a competition and score high enough to move on to a higher one,” Wachold said.

Wachold hopes her hard work will eventually pay off in a scholarship to a university.

“I want to get a scholarship to UCLA. Thats where my coach works,” Wachold said.

Sophomore Maddy Offerman also participates in the ISPE program. She does ballet and attends Ventura County Ballet School.

“Ballet is a good way to express yourself; its fun and challenging. I’ve been dancing for ten years and I practice a lot. I have class for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours a day. I am also doing four parts in the Nutcracker that I have to rehearse for,” Offerman said.

Offerman is participating in Ventura County Ballet Company’s production of The Nutcracker and thanks to ISPE, she has time to prepare for the show. She also believes her commitment to ballet helps her succeed in her life at school.

“[Ballet] makes me more disciplined and dedicated. In ballet you have to be focused and work hard and I think that transfers into my school work,” she said.

Her goal for ballet is to become the best dancer she can be. Her desire to improve as a dancer led her to attend a ballet summer intensive at the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“I didn’t choose to go to Foothill because of ISPE, but I do like that we have it. Since I go to ballet so much, I don’t have much time to do homework, so getting out at two helps,” Offerman said. 

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