Massena High School allows yoga, calls it 'Raider Relaxation'
by The Associated Press
Wednesday October 15, 2008, 2:27 PM
An upstate New York high school has won community approval to offer
students a voluntary yoga program, as long as it's not called yoga.
The program at Massena High School has been renamed "Raider
Relaxation" -- after the school mascot -- and includes the same
exercises that drew objections last month from some parents who said
yoga promotes Hinduism and had no place in school.
"It is still yoga. If opponents feel a name change solves the dilemma,
I'm all for that," Board of Education President Julie Reagan said
Wednesday. "We are basically doing the same thing, we're just calling
it something different."
The compromise was reached during a meeting between Superintendent
Roger Clough and several parents. Clough said parents agreed to change
the name of the in-class program and set up an after-school club to
give interested students a deeper understanding of yoga.
Special education teacher Martha Duchscherer and Kerry Perretta, a
Spanish teacher, began using yoga in their classrooms last year to
relieve stress before exams and had approached the school board this
fall about letting other teachers use the breathing and relaxation
techniques in their classes.
Perretta and Duchscherer are both in the process of being certified by
the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago. After finishing their training,
they will be qualified to teach yoga methods to other educators.
It was when the teachers asked to expand the program that a group of
parents raised concerns. They claimed teaching yoga in school would
promote Hinduism and violate the separation of church and state.
"Basically, what they're going to do (in class) is simple breathing,"
the Rev. Colin J. Lucid of Calvary Baptist Church, one of the
program's original critics, told the Watertown Daily Times. "The
breathing is just what they would do in gym."
Reagan, a professor of classroom management courses at the State
University of New York at Potsdam, said the board supports the yoga
program, whatever it is called. One hundred schools in 26 states use
yoga in the classroom to relieve stress, Reagan said.
She said all the fuss has generated more interest among students.
The debate around Massena's yoga program is not unprecedented. In
2002, a group of Baptists in Aspen, Colo., objected to a proposed yoga
program in the public school district, citing separation of church and
state as well.