Gym class doesn’t have to be in a gym.
A portion of the physical education classes for students at Collinsville Middle School involve a bowling ball, 10 pins and a lane at Camelot Bowl in Collinsville.
For the past 20 years, seventh- and eighth-graders have traveled to the nearby bowling alley for class. Last week, about 90 seventh-graders were half-way into their twice weekly, six-week session.
“I think it’s fun,” said Summer Butterfield, 12, just after rolling a ball down the lane. “It’s a good way to get out of a regular routine.”
Physical education department head Audrey Hill said bowling is an activity that students can continue throughout their life.
“We’re trying to encourage them to stay active,” she said.
P.E. teacher Linda Kaspar said having bowling classes as part of the P.E. curriculum started 20 years ago when a fire destroyed the school's cafeteria and gymnasium.
“We had the kids in the library (during gym class). In the wintertime, what are you going to do?” she said. “So we decided to take them to Camelot. The Hartmans said, sure we can fit you in. And that’s how we started.”
Each student pays $12 a school year to rent shoes, balls and lanes.
Camelot Bowl owner Artie Hartman said the program gives kids of all athletic abilities an activity they can participate in.
And he said the middle school's 20 years of bowling classes help the school's bowling team, which won a state championship this year.
“If this wasn’t happening,” he said. “Those kids wouldn’t have won.”