Thursday, September 13, 2012

Student Involvement in Extra-Curricular Activities


There is no better place to be on a Friday night than a high school football game! Perhaps I am a little biased as I have spent nearly two decades in the fall of each year standing on the sidelines of a high school football field – cheering on our kids, listening to the band play, and watching our student body and cheerleaders encourage the crowd to get on their feet and get involved.

As Friday night rolled around last week, I once again had the opportunity to join thousands in our community in this rite of passage. On this night, I found myself at Oconee County High School cheering on the Warriors. I am sure in the near future I will be experiencing another great evening as I cheer on the Titans of North Oconee. However, it is not the color of the jersey or the mascot of the team that excites me about these events. It is the involvement of our kids.

Research reflects that students involved in their school have a better self-concept, attend school on a more regular basis than their peers, and have higher academic success measured by both grade point average and standardized test scores. In fact, a study by the U. S. Department of Education revealed that students who participate in extracurricular activities are three times more likely to have a grade point average of 3.0 or better. My own doctoral research in this field found that, regardless of whether students were involved in the band, cheerleading, drama, football, or a host of other school-sponsored sports or activities, the result was the same. They outperformed their peers academically and had greater pride and investment in their school experience.

On Friday night, it was my pleasure to see a band of 110 individuals, a football team of nearly 75 students, a cheerleading squad made up of approximately 20 young ladies, and a student section that easily numbered over 100 kids. Rough math provides a total count of involved students in this one event of just over 300. The student population of OCHS is nearing 1100, so that is over 25 percent of the student body taking part in this one extracurricular activity. This percentage does not take into account the softball games, cross country practices, and other school-related activities that were most assuredly also taking place on this day. It is, however, a positive snapshot of an involved community and another indicator of our school system’s successful academic history.

So my question this week is simple: Are you kids involved in their school? Have they found an activity that gets them plugged in? The results are clear. Please encourage your children and our students to get involved. The impact is evident and the memories lifelong.

Let me know what you think, Oconee County. Please share with me the activities in which your students are involved and the impact they are having. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, opinions, and success stories via email at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.

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