PLYMOUTH, Minn. -- "C'mon.. you can stretch a little bit further!" Students encourage each other as they stretch and warm up for their gym class.
These Wayzata High School students are pioneers, in something called Unified Physical Education.
"We're taking the general population and the special ed population and we're bringing them together in a physical education atmosphere," explained teacher Mike Doyle. "I've had this class in my brain for a few years."
New funding has allowed Wayzata to expand its gym space- allowing Doyle to make his dream a reality. Doyle worked with Special Olympics and another teacher, Lisa Smith, at Procter High School, to develop the class.
"It's mostly building the relationships, breaking down the walls between the gen ed students and the special ed students in Wayzata High School," said Doyle.
It's nothing new for students like sophomore Jake Ogle who began working with special ed kids in middle school. He jumped at the chance to have an opportunity in his regular school day to interact with special ed kids in a classroom they both share. "Now I get to see that smile all day every day and that's great," Ogle said.
"It's more like being friends," said senior Annika Lerdall.
Doyle sees students teaching each other and having a more authentic experience than the few minutes a day they might have in passing time. It's also a chance for some of his students to step up as leaders -- teaching parts of the class, and collaborating on future lessons that will keep everyone moving and engaged.
It's a class that seems to check every box Mike Doyle has as a teacher. His students are learning, they're having fun, and he believes the benefits will extend well beyond the gym walls.
"Probably the biggest winner of all of them is Wayzata High School, because the whole climate is now is changing with this unified program."