Senior Kristin Priest finds alternative P.E. courses


Caroline Judd

Preparing for the ice rink, senior Kristen Priest holds her ice skates before her practice on Wednesday. Priest is grateful for the variety of her schedule with the addition of Ice skating. “I think it's really cool to end the day doing something fun,” Priest said. “I am very glad to be back and moving again.”

After being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) during September of her freshman year, senior Kristin Priest decided to take ice skating to complete her Physical Education (P.E.) credit.

Priest has not been able to take a P.E. class since her diagnosis. She was looking at the catalog for Meramec Community College in September when she found ice skating as a credit course.

“I have to be very careful of what I do every day,” Priest said. “Ice skating is perfect for me because before I was diagnosed, I was a dancer, so I am used to the workouts.”  

Beginning Jan. 23, Priest would have left school during fifth hour on Mondays and Wednesdays to go to the Kirkwood Ice Rink where she would skate with 10 other students.

“I want to get back to being physically active and being myself,” Priest said. “It’s an amazing opportunity, and it is worth doing.”

The class would allow her to earn a half-credit for the semester and costs about $200, which she paid for herself.

“Paying for the class has been totally worth it,” Priest said. “Anything is worth paying for if it will help me improve and learn.”

Although her schedule is impacted, Priest has packed her remaining time in school with a variety of classes. She cadet teaches for marketing teacher Holly Weber and takes Marketing 2, AP Literature and Composition, Painting and AP Art History 2 in the morning.

“I love being able to end the day with something fun to do,” Priest said. “It’s really cool to be a part of this course and being able to be athletic to my own ability.”

Through dealing with her illness, Priest has learned the value of self-advocation.

“The most important lesson I realized was the concept of fighting for what you want in life. I had pretty much every ounce of happiness stripped from my life, and I was living in the most basic state of survival,” Priest said. “After a couple of months living this way, I realized that nothing will ever get better if I just wait around for it.”

Persevering to be more active again, Priest was hopeful that ice skating would build up her self esteem and confidence.

“I was excited to get back to moving again,” Priest said. “I thought ice skating would give me the much-needed confidence to get back to being myself.”

However, the day before class began, Priest was informed that the course was canceled due to a lack of enrollment.

“I was very upset the class was canceled,” Priest said. “I felt–especially since I’m still recovering from my illness–a bit of physical exercise would be wonderful for me, so knowing that I will not have that opportunity is very hard.”

In order to graduate, Priest still has to complete a P.E. credit despite ice skating being canceled. Because of this she elected to take a different course through Meramec.

“Now I am taking a stress management class which focuses on yoga, meditation and healthy ways to manage stress physically,” Priest said. “It is an extremely interesting class and while it is not ice skating, I am still enjoying it!”