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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Value of Extra-Curricular Activities

Today was a beautiful morning of sunshine and warmth. It was a great opportunity to get out of the confines of the office and go to Paine Park to observe practices of Heatly's two varsity soccer teams. I spoke with the coaches and watched the boys and girls teams go through drills before actually participating a bit myself.

Extra-curricular activities served an important role in my life during high school. I was a three sport athlete at Schalmont High School in Rotterdam, New York. My involvement in soccer, basketball, and baseball offered opportunities to develop skills and gain experiences that would prove beneficial to me as I grew older. The leadership responsibilities I encountered as team captain increased my confidence and self-discipline. I gained an understanding of the need for, and the value of, teamwork, practice, sacrifice, ethical behavior, goal setting, commitment, cooperation and maintaining focus - all characteristics that contribute toward success later in the workplace, no matter what occupation one chooses. I realized the significance of communication, trust and dependability. And, at the end of each contest, you received feedback on your efforts in the form of outcomes measured in scores, points, goals, or runs. One learns to deal with victory and defeat.

Joe Paterno, long time football coach of Penn State University summed these experiences up best when he said, "Sports doesn't build character, it reveals character." I would use the same perspective to describe virtually all extra-curricular activities at Heatly or any high school. These opportunities supply individuals with a chance to discover their capacity, explore their possibilities, and learn about themselves in ways they might not in a classroom. Although our state education department focuses on test scores as the primary factor in determining levels of learning, I believe that the experiences students acquire through extra-curricular activities are as valuable in predicting future success. Nearly every job requires the worker to demonstrate cooperation, dedication, and responsibility - the same skills and attributes that a student can develop through extra-curricular experiences.

In fact, the National Association of High School Principals has conducted annual surveys of high school life for the last few decades and the data collected offers evidence year after year that the grade point averages of high school students who are active in extra-curricular programs is higher than those who do not engage in any extra-curricular activity. Similarly, high school students at Heatly have the chance to grow in many ways as a result of their participation in extra-curricular activities, whether it's student council, class officer, chorus, athletics, drama, or the host of other experiences available to those interested in expanding their horizons.

I encourage our high school students to become active in extra-curricular programs, and I appreciate the support of the Green Island community in providing the resources necessary for our students to experience these valuable learning opportunities.

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