The Hooten’s Arkansas Football Magazine is out. Summer practice for football, band and volleyball restarted on Monday and there are less than seven weeks to go until the football season kicks off at Earle on September 1. Central High School is once again a center of activity with kids back on campus. Soon, counselors will return, student schedules will be finalized, and teachers will be working in their rooms preparing for another school year.
Extracurricular activities are an integral part of the educational process. At Central, well over 1/3 of our students will participate in either athletics, play in the band, be a cheerleader, or sing in the choir. Many more will be a part of a club. These activities help to teach our students a wide variety of important values and skills, and they provide our students with positive activities to participate in at a time in our society when young people need all of the wholesome activities and the structure and supervision that come along with that participation as possible. In HWHSD, we are always encouraging our coaches, directors, and sponsors to build their numbers and involve as many students as is practically possible, while still insisting upon a level of commitment.
Often, we hear people want to downplay the importance of these activities and to criticize the expenditure of resources allocated to making sure our children have these opportunities. These criticisms are severely misguided. There is an abundant amount of research to show a direct correlation between participation in these activities and increased academic achievement, and these activities teach values that reinforce our district’s commitment to produce graduates that are productive, responsible, and caring citizens.
One that readily comes to mind is commitment. In order be successful at anything, we have to be committed to putting in the work to prepare and hone our skills. We learn this lesson through extracurricular activities as we quickly learn that if we do not practice hard and learn the proper techniques to complete the block, spike a ball, or hit the high note we will not do well on game day when it comes time to perform. We also know it takes a similar kind of commitment to excel in the work place.
Another important value we learn through these extracurricular activities is responsibility for our assigned task and a responsibility to others that are on our team. If a block is missed or if one person is out of step during the halftime show, then the play or performance is flawed and unsuccessful. The mistakes of one person negatively reflect upon the entire team or organization. That lesson also applies in the workplace. If we fail to complete our assignment, it will negatively reflect on our employer and affect the reputation of the work produced by the entire organization.
We know that all of us are imperfect and make mistakes, which leads to the next important value that we learn through participation in extracurricular activities. That is the value of learning how to face adversity. We may get off to a bad start with a bad serve, a turnover, or not catching the baton during the halftime show. Do we quit? Do we hang our head in shame at the embarrassment of making that mistake with so many eyes on us. No. We get up and prepare for the next play, serve, or pick the baton up and resume the routine as the band plays on. That’s how it is in life. We face hardships. Some because of our mistakes or, in some cases, through no fault of our own. We have to persevere through that difficult moment to provide for our families and prepare for the next opportunity in the workplace.
These are just a small sample of the important lessons that extracurricular activities teach to students and why they are such an important part of the educational process. Public schools have a responsibility to provide these opportunities to students and to make sure that they have a chance to compete at the highest level since we preach doing your best.
Extracurricular activities also provide opportunities to forge bonds between our schools and our community and to showcase our community to visitors from around the state. In future columns, I will discuss the importance of extracurricular activities in those areas. But it is clear that these activities are an essential part of the educational process. They are also a lot of fun and I have personally witnessed the positive role they have played in the lives of countless students in my career as an educator, a member of the media and as a student. Let’s get out and support these kids in the fall. Volleyball opens the home slate of games on August 31 at 4:30. The Cougars open the season on the road against the Earle Bulldogs. All the football games can be heard on KCLT-FM 104.9 and online at www.force3radio.com. I can’t wait to begin my 13th season broadcasting the Cougar Football games. I want to see you there!
Until next time, GO COUGARS!