Board gets update on co-curriculars

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More than 85 percent of all MHS students participated in at least one sport or club, athletic director Bob Joers said during his annual co-curricular presentation to the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 27.
Others who presented included new activities director Ben White, former activities director Danny Lynam, middle school associate principals Eric Engel (Kromrey) and Mary Kern (Glacier Creek) and MHS student-athletes Sarah Foley and Stuart Wodzro.

Joers noted 1,225 students are out for at least one sport and 1,245 have participated in at least one club. There are 1,739 students out of more than 2,000 who did at least one. Joers also said MHS has surveyed the 307 who weren't out for a club or sport in 2017-18 and most still feel connected and have solid GPAs. He also shared that 91 minority students aren't involved in a club or sport.

MHS had 86 teams last year and he thinks that number will grow to 91 in 2018-19. He said it is challenging finding practice space, quality coaches and enough games for all of the teams. Busing is another challenge.

The Cardinals had 11 Big Eight Conference champions, 18 individuals who placed in the top 10 at state, and three teams that won state with another taking second in 2017-18.

"Around the state we are definitely recognized as one of the top programs,'' Joers said.

Joers was particularly proud of the effort MHS students made last week after the flooding. A number of teams canceled practice last Tuesday to help residents and businesses impacted.

"It was really great to see and it puts things into perspective,'' Joers said. "I think that really shows the culture we have created.''

He noted the extra-curricular code was updated last year. The Cardinal Creed is easier to communicate and more meaningful. A video was also produced highlighting the important parts of the code.

Foley, who swims, runs track and is a member of DECA and Key Club, said she learned a lot from upperclassmen. She also said sports gave her a sense of belonging and that she is more confident because MHS is known for its excellence.

Wodzro, who is a captain in track and is also on the boys soccer varsity reserve team, said he started with  sports out of curiosity but they have helped him become more organized.

Lynam said he focused the past few years on trying to create a structure to support club advisers. MHS had also planned to start an intramural program during all-school resource time on B days, but it was difficult because that time was meant to be used for academics, he said.

Instead, he and Tre Seals worked to develop an awards system for students who were successful. Those who were passing all of their classes were allowed to participate in programs during ASR. Lynam added he wasn't sure the system was reaching the target population.

White, who recently took over as the activities coordinator and is also the MHS boys volleyball coach, will also be the point person for the advisory program and service learning hours. He said getting an intramural sports program going is a priority, although he emphasized MHS may need to do things differently. He noted Hartland Arrowhead holds its intramural events on Wednesday nights but he doesn't think that is the model MHS wants to develop as it would be challenging to get students back to school in the evening.

Engel said the extended day bus that is available Monday through Thursday is utilized often by middle school students, while extended day funds have allowed staff to be experimental with what they want to offer.

"Our staff knows what the students like and they have developed programs they will enjoy,'' he said.

Kern noted participation among students of color is still low. She said it has been challenging to students who live near Elver Park to feel like they are a part of Glacier Creek community. She believes the family engagement positions that were added to the middle schools last year have made a big difference helping families feel more connected.

Engel and Kern said struggles to increasing participation include competing with club sports and students' interests often shift so it is important to stay nimble. Engel also said a recent survey of middle school students about why they don't participate included home responsibilities, conflicts with club sports and their  interests were not being met.