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La Sierra High PE Film Project
La Sierra High PE Film Project

This 1960s High School Gym Class Would Ruin You

La Sierra High PE Film Project
La Sierra High PE Film Project

“The program, in sum, not only builds physical fitness, but good Americans.” That’s how Look magazine summarized the physical education program of La Sierra High School in January 1962 [PDF]. If you’re wondering how a gym class got a major spread in a national publication—as well as an endorsement from President John F. Kennedy—take a look at this.

That’s a bunch of teenagers looking like they could rip a phone book in half. The PE curriculum at La Sierra in Carmichael, California was not so much famous as it was notorious: It frequently asked more of the students than of prospects entering the Naval Academy. Calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups, suspended sit-ups) were done on a circuit during both a 12-minute warm up and 5 minutes of punishing, high-intensity exercise through an obstacle course. Coach Stan LeProtti, who initiated the program in 1957, even had custom equipment like peg boards and monkey bars built.

“Kids today are not built like that,” Doug Orchard, a filmmaker working on a documentary about LeProtti’s efforts, tells mental_floss. “It was the last great physical education program in the country.”

Students moved through the program based on a color scale: white shorts were for rookies, while red, blue, purple, and gold signaled serious ability. White shorts had to do a minimum of six pull-ups. Today, a Marine can pass a physical doing only three. Most boys, Orchard says, got to at least red. Getting to blue was a big deal; gold athletes were “crazy impressive.” Those who wanted a rare Navy Blue rank had to do 34 pull-ups and carry someone on their back for five miles. Only 19 students in the history of the school ever earned one.

“There were no injuries we’ve found,” Orchard says. “If you got the flu and were out a month, you had to re-test. The intensity and volume were crazy, but there was a progression. Their entire freshman year, they spent a long time just learning how to breathe correctly.”

The media attention surrounding La Sierra was so intense that by 1962, a health-conscious President Kennedy made an open plea for other schools to get involved, and more than 4000 signed up for the program, which eventually grew to include females. America’s youth may have been at its fittest—until the 1960s began to chip away at their resolve.

“There was a lot of resistance when Vietnam lagged on,” Orchard says. “People started showing up not dressed for PE as a form of protest.” By the time La Sierra closed its doors in 1983, LeProtti’s efforts had been mostly forgotten. But a few years ago, clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch phoned Ron Jones, a physical fitness historian, to ask about the workout footage he had uploaded.

It went viral. Now Jones and Orchard are hoping their film—due out in summer 2016—will help both lawmakers and educators to re-assess activity programs across the country. Currently, less than half of all high school students hit the gym for any reason, let alone exhibit the physical feats the kids of La Sierra were able to pull off.

“We have a shot of bringing back real physical education,” Orchard says. “These kids were doing things I’ve never seen anyone else do.”

All Images Courtesy of La Sierra High PE Film Project

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The 25 Toughest Colleges to Get Into in 2018
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As many students from the class of 2018 look forward to college, the next year's seniors are gearing up for the application process. The school and neighborhood analysis tool Niche has broken down which universities are the most competitive in 2018.

To compile the list below, Niche pulled data from the U.S. Department of Education on college acceptance rates and the SAT/ACT test scores of enrollees. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harvard University, one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the U.S., ranked No.1 with an acceptance rate of 5 percent and an SAT range of 1430 to 1600 points. Right below that is California's Stanford University, also with an acceptance rate of 5 percent and a slightly lower SAT range of 1380 to 1580. Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the California Institute of Technology round out the top five.

America's best schools don't always come with the highest tuition. According to Niche, the average cost to attend Harvard after financial aid is $16,205 per year. The most expensive school on the list is Harvey Mudd in California in 14th place with a net price of $35,460.

Check out the full list below.

1. Harvard University // Cambridge, Massachusetts
2. Stanford University // Stanford, California
3. Yale University // New Haven, Connecticut
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology // Cambridge, Massachusetts
5. California Institute of Technology // Pasadena, California
6. Princeton University // Princeton, New Jersey
7. University of Chicago // Chicago
8. Columbia University // New York
9. Vanderbilt University // Nashville, Tennessee
10. Brown University // Providence, Rhode Island
11. University of Pennsylvania // Philadelphia
12. Duke University // Durham, North Carolina
13. Dartmouth College // Hanover, New Hampshire
14. Harvey Mudd College // Claremont, California
15. Pomona College // Claremont, California
16. Northwestern University // Evanston, Illinois
17. Rice University // Houston, Texas
18. Johns Hopkins University // Baltimore, Maryland
19. Swarthmore College // Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
20. Claremont McKenna College // Claremont, California
21. Washington University in St. Louis // St. Louis, Missouri
22. Cornell University // Ithaca, New York
23. Amherst College // Amherst, Massachusetts
24. Bowdoin College // Brunswick, Maine
25. Tufts University // Medford, Massachusetts

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The 25 Most In-Demand Job Skills Right Now, According to LinkedIn
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Looking for a new job? Depending on what line of work you’re in, you may want to brush up on your technical skills—or learn some new ones. LinkedIn recently released a list of the 25 most desirable skills for 2018, and it’s clear that many employers are on the lookout for people with experience in computing, web development, and software and data engineering.

LinkedIn analyzed data from its member base of more than 500 million people to determine which skills are most needed by employers, according to Business Insider. The thousands of individual skills that can be found across member profiles were grouped into overarching categories (iOS, for instance, would go under the mobile development umbrella). Next, LinkedIn analyzed hiring and recruiting activity during an eight-month span and “identified the skill categories that belonged to members who were more likely to start a new role within a company and receive interest from companies.”

Here’s the full list:

1. Cloud and Distributed Computing
2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
3. Middleware and Integration Software
4. Web Architecture and Development Framework
5. User Interface Design
6. Software Revision Control Systems
7. Data Presentation
8. SEO/SEM Marketing
9. Mobile Development
10. Network and Information Security
11. Marketing Campaign Management
12. Data Engineering and Data Warehousing
13. Storage Systems and Management
14. Electronic and Electrical Engineering
15. Algorithm Design
16. Perl, Python, and Ruby
17. Shell Scripting Languages
18. Mac, Linux, and Unix Systems
19. Java Development
20. Business Intelligence
21. Software QA and User Testing
22. Virtualization
23. Automotive Services, Parts and Design
24. Economics
25. Database Management and Software

Many of these skills can be learned from the comfort of your home via online classes that are available on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, edX, and Lynda. While it couldn’t hurt to know these hard skills, 57 percent of business leaders surveyed by LinkedIn said soft skills are even more important. Those tend to be more universal across careers, with leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management being identified as the most crucial soft skills to have in 2018.

If you’re ready to start learning a new skill but don’t know where to start, check out this list of 25 ways to learn a new skill quickly.

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