Physical Education

"Mens Sana in Corpore Sano"

"A Sound Mind in a Sound Body" 
-Decimus Junius Juvenal, 130 A.D.

Physical Education is an essential part of the total educational process. The Overlake program offers a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional activities, which allow for the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth of each student. The department strives to instill a positive attitude toward an active and healthy lifestyle that will enrich the quality of life.  In his book Brain Rules, John Medina writes, “The benefits of exercise seem nearly endless because its impact is system wide, affecting most physiological systems.  When combined with the intellectual benefits exercise appears to offer, we have in our hands as close to a magic bullet for improving human health as exists in modern medicine.”

Physical education at Overlake is a very positive experience. Students are expected to dress for action and participate to the best of their ability every day. Classes are designed to serve all students regardless of age, gender, athletic ability, or physical capacity with high expectations for all students to reach their personal potential. The department is committed to delivering a planned and purposeful high activity-based, success-oriented program to our students.  Sequential skill building, game strategies, aerobic fitness, wellness, strength building, team building, cooperative challenges, and sportsmanship are the basis for a program that encourages healthy choices now and in the future.  All activities are conducted in a safe and nurturing environment, in keeping with the mission of the school. Students work daily on personal fitness, skill development, teamwork and sportsmanship.

Overlake is committed to educating the whole child and health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Part of this education involves information presented and discussed in eighth grade and tenth grade Life Skills that includes social-emotional intelligence, basic competencies for interdependence, cultural competency, sexual and relationship wellness and mental health.

Curriculum Requirements

For the graduating classes of 2020 - 2023

The Physical Education requirements are two full credits (four semester classes). Required courses are Lifeskills in grade 10 and either Comprehensive PE or Conditioning during a student’s four years of Upper School. The remaining 2 semesters may be selected from the electives.

For the graduating class of 2024 and beyond

The Physical Education requirements are two full credits (four semester classes). Required courses are 9 PE in grade 9 and Lifeskills in grade 10. The remaining 2 semesters may be selected from the electives.


Physical Education 5

Physical Education

The curriculum in grade five is intentionally designed to include a wide variety of fitness-related activities and sports. The goal of each activity is to provide maximal participation to enhance both fitness and the basic movement skills of throwing, catching, striking, kicking, balance, agility, and eye-hand coordination. Games are modified to ensure success and keep the skills and expectations age-appropriate. Individual progress is measured using rubrics, self-evaluation, peer evaluation, teacher evaluation, fitness tests, and the medals program. The Fitnessgram test is administered twice each year and is used to measure the effectiveness of their work in accomplishing a healthy level of fitness. Special activities for the fifth grade include lawn games, badminton, circus arts, bowling, bouldering, cricket, pillow polo, rope skipping, tumbling, volleyball, lacrosse, table tennis, and wiffleball. Swimming is offered as available on a year-by-year basis.

Physical Education 6

Physical Education

Through the use of small and large group games and cooperative activities, sixth-grade students develop more skills specific to games and sports. Fitness remains a top priority of each day's activities and low-level competition is introduced with a strong emphasis placed on sportsmanship. Sixth-grade students are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Each student's progress is monitored and demonstrated using rubrics, self-evaluations, peer evaluations, and fitness activities. Special units for the sixth grade are archery, floor hockey, pickleball, fistball, and tennis. Each class completes two fitness evaluations throughout the year. The Fitnessgram evaluation is used to measure the effectiveness of their work in accomplishing a healthy level of fitness.

Physical Education 7

Physical Education

In seventh-grade, a more technical approach is used toward game skills. Game strategies are introduced and alternative warm-ups and games are a part of each day. These non-traditional activities keep the program active and fun while ensuring fitness and skill development. Additionally, at this level students are assigned grades that reflect their class participation, effort, contributions to the group, sportsmanship, and attitude. Skills are evaluated using goal setting, rubrics, self-evaluation, peer evaluation, video review, and fitness activities, in order to demonstrate individual progress. Many units are re-visited in the seventh-grade and include archery, soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, hockey, and more advanced skills/tactics are taught and practiced. Special units include multi-cultural games taught by the students, and leadership challenges to develop communication skills. There is an introduction to the fitness center, where students learn more about muscular endurance training. In addition, each class section works collaboratively and cooperatively to choose four additional units they would like to explore during their seventh-grade year. Each class completes The Fitnessgram evaluation twice per year and the results are used to measure the effectiveness of their work in accomplishing a healthy level of fitness.

Physical Education 8

Physical Education
8th grade students spend one quarter in each of the following classes: health, conditioning, recreational sports, and team sports. Each class focuses on topics and skills that are fundamental to the overall health and well-being of each student.


The study of all aspects of healthy well-being is one unit of the physical education curriculum. Students rotate through the health portion of Health/PE class for one quarter in the four units. Study includes:

  1. Social-Emotional Health—brain development, mindfulness, communication skills & emotional vocabulary
  2. Physical Health—nutrition, healthy body-image and CPR
  3. Sexual Health—reproductive and sexual anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, and communication
  4. Mental Health—suicide prevention, stress management and preventative practices

All of the above topics are taught and discussed keeping in mind the all-encompassing themes of choice, responsibility, and consequences.


Students are introduced to training principles in the fitness center and spend the quarter learning many different fitness training techniques.  Students learn to individualize their workouts, practice exercises specific to their activity goals. Each student completes the Fitnessgram evaluation to measure the effectiveness of their work in accomplishing a healthy level of fitness. The overall goal is to help students exercise “smarter” to help them reach their personal fitness and performance goals and to complete a dynamic workout each day of class.

Team Sports

In team sports, each student will have the opportunity to be involved in 2-3 different specific team sports. Each sport is broken down into a season. The season is set up with a coach that helps divide the class into a designated number of teams, focusing on each student’s level of exposure to the activity, current skill level, and overall participation in-class activities. Each coach leads their team in daily practice and by helping their team work together to accomplish a goal common goal for the season. Every additional member of the team will be given a specific role to carry out throughout the season. Each sport is chosen by the class. The teaching and practicing of social responsibility/teamwork is the main theme in this class. Everything is done with a team as a team.

Recreational Sports

The recreational sports class focuses on recreational and lifetime activities. The emphasis is on low-organized participation and not competition. Students learn skills, rules, and strategies while participating in individual and group activities. Activities may include; badminton, volleyball, archery, tennis, pickleball, bocce ball, table tennis, spike ball, fistball, ultimate, Gola, and gym games. Games are designed to teach sportsmanship, cooperation, leadership, respect for diversity of abilities, problem-solving, and proper game etiquette. Rules are often modified to ensure success and games are played in small groups to maximize participation.

9th Grade PE

Physical Education
Required for all 9th grade students. All 9th graders will be automatically enrolled in this course.

This course is an introduction to upper school physical education. It will include components from each of the elective courses offered at Overlake.

Our main objectives in this course are to: 

  1. give our students the opportunity to explore different aspects of physical education in order to give them more intentional options for future PE classes
  2. conduct specific fitness tests in order to determine areas of strength and weakness
  3. help students demonstrate competency in a variety of motor skills
  4. help students apply knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics related to movement and performance
  5. encourage students to demonstrate the knowledge and skill necessary to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness

All 9th graders will be placed in this course and there is an option to take this course during the school day and at the zero block hour. 

Athletics for PE Credit

Physical Education

As an Overlake student, Freshman are required to take 9th Grade PE and Sophomores are required to take Lifeskills. The two remaining semesters of PE (after 9th Grade PE and Lifeskills) can be completed by enrolling in the PE elective class options or through applying for Athletics for PE, which can satisfy one semester credit each year. Students in their Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years may apply for Athletics for PE if they play two Overlake sports in one school year either their Sophomore, Junior, or Senior year. Seniors may not apply for Athletics for PE if their second sport will be in the spring season. You may apply for Athletics for PE twice to satisfy the final two semesters. This would mean you would play two sports in multiple years (sophomore and/or, junior, and/or senior). 

If you are a rising senior, we can apply the Athletics for PE retroactively for the 2024-25 school year. 

No outside sport commitments count toward this policy, regardless of level or time commitment. 

If you would like to apply for Athletics for PE for next year, please send an email to me <>, Alisa Steinhilber <>, and Mindy McGrath <>. In your email please outline if:

1) Which semester/ year you are applying for Athletics for PE 

2) What two sports you play (must be at Overlake)

3)Whether this is to satisfy your 3rd of 4th PE Class

Comprehensive PE

Physical Education
Semester elective.

Comprehensive physical education provides the opportunity for students to participate in traditional and non-traditional sports, individual activities, racquet sports, recreational sports, and lifetime activities. These games involve some competition but this is not the focus. The emphasis is on learning skills, rules, and strategies for each activity. Playing with teamwork, demonstrating sportsmanship, and learning to use the equipment safely are also key concepts in this course. To promote and encourage student input, class members will work together to choose the sports or activities they would like to explore during the semester.


Physical Education
Semester elective.

This class is designed for anyone interested in performance enhancement and injury prevention. There is a strong emphasis on solid fitness principles, which center around learning efficient movement patterns. Students learning is focused on three main areas; recovery, nutrition, and strength training. Students will participate in different modes of training in order to solidify solid physical preparation skills. These modes of training also help students learn and practice safe, effective, and efficient training techniques. The course will explore ways to recover and prepare for physical work, nutrition to support the basic needs of any person or athlete, the 6 basic movement patterns, and how to incorporate them into training. Students who wish to focus on a specific area such as strength, speed, power, endurance, agility, and/or flexibility needed to improve performance in a specific sport or activity will be guided to design and follow a self-directed program.


Physical Education
10th grade requirement.

As a college-preparatory school, core academic skill areas are a major focus to inspire excellence and to develop intellectual curiosity. To further Overlake’s mission to teach responsibility, embrace diversity, and foster a compassionate community, core lessons in the Lifeskills curriculum focus on understanding and competency in skills beyond academic subject areas necessary in developing the “whole student” and leading to interpersonal, physical, and professional success. Issues related to personal responsibility, safety, effective communication, and decision-making are explored in an activity-oriented classroom, where discussion, hands-on practice, and guest speakers provide students with meaningful opportunities for gaining knowledge and developing competency in areas vital for responsible participation in adult life. Units include Social-Emotional Wellness, Cultural Competency, Mental Health and Wellness, Physical & Sexual Safety and Wellness, and Basic Competencies.

Outdoor Education

Physical Education
Full-year upper school elective earning .5 credits. Class meets during the first semester only and students must complete the required number of trips by the end of the second semester. There will be additional costs to cover equipment rental, food, and the use of off-site facilities.

This course will provide students with the opportunity to learn about leadership and wilderness first aid in the classroom while gaining skills and experience in the out-of-doors on weekends. Students will attend class during the academic day for 4 times out of the 8 day cycle throughout fall semester and have free block for the remaining days. Students will also be required to participate in a 4 day backpacking trip, Oct. 11-14, 2023. Students will then need to participate in at least 4 days worth of trips over the course of the year to complete this credit, with one of these trips as an Upper School Leader on a Middle School trip. In the classroom portion students will be required to pass a wilderness first aid course addressing all of the major causes and treatments of problems and injuries in the wilderness. Students may select trips that introduce them to low-impact camping, backpacking, map and compass navigation, kayaking, rafting, snowshoeing, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and wilderness first aid. The class will be limited to 12 people to accommodate wilderness use size limits.

Fall trips have included: river kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, backpacking, avalanche awareness, mountaineering, and wilderness first aid.

Spring trips have included:mountaineering, winter camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, avalanche safety, and rock climbing.

Team Sports

Physical Education
Semester elective.

Basic game skills and game strategies will be taught in this course with an additional emphasis on learning game rules. Team sports may include basketball, soccer, flag football, volleyball, gola, team handball, lacrosse, softball, floor hockey, field hockey, cricket, ultimate frisbee, netball, fistball, korfball, rugby, and fitness drills specific to the sport. To promote and encourage student input, class members will work together to choose the sports or activities they would like to explore during the semester.


Physical Education
Semester elective.

This class is designed for individuals interested in learning and practicing the art of yoga. This yoga study will blend styles of Hatha (Gentle), Vinyasa (Flow), Ashtanga (Power), Iyengar (Alignment), and Kundalini (Breath) yoga. Benefits of this collection of studies will include a focus on alignment through postures or use of props, weight-bearing exercise, and increasing flexibility through breath connection to movement. Yoga establishes a framework for lifelong fitness, developing core strength, safe stretching practices, health, and well-being rooted in kinesiology and philosophy. Students will increase awareness of skeletal and muscular systems while deepening strength, balance, flexibility, and focus through various sequences of yoga asanas or postures. Students will learn how yoga may enhance, repair, relax, or rebalance the muscles and the mind given all the demands of modern life. Additionally, students will complete reflective written assignments each quarter establishing goals, intentions for practice, reflecting upon progress and concepts for emphasis in future practice. 


Introduction to Sports Medicine

Physical Education
Semester elective. Open to 11th and 12th grades, and to students in 10th grade by permission of the teacher.

Introduction to Sports Medicine is a class for students who would like to learn about the human body and how it relates to human function, injury/prevention or injury, and treatment of injury as well as dealing with emergency situations and First Aid/CPR. Students will use a combination of group projects, laboratory activities, and classroom tasks to learn and use the training skills and leadership skills required of an athletic trainer. Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 3 events (athletic contests/games) of practical training outside of the classroom as part of the class requirements. Events can also be accumulated by helping after school in the athletic training room. During this time students will be expected to act in a professional manner, assist as needed, and work to master the skills they have been introduced to in the classroom. Students may select the events or times they wish to cover, but there will be a limited number of spots depending on the event. Students may not cover events in which they are involved (e.g. basketball player covering own basketball game).


Mindy McGrath
Physical Education Department Chair