The 2017-18 school year is off to a roaring athletic start, with several games from various fall sports within the first couple of weeks. This means that although the school year has barely begun, student athletes and those who participate in other rigorous extracurriculars offered by DHS have already started balancing a full academic load and remaining eligible for participation all while missing class regularly for away games and managing a busy extracurricular schedule.
In the 2016-17 school year, under the new athletic director Adam Bright, the academic policy for activities and athletics was updated, stating that at bi-weekly grade checks, any student failing one or more classes is ineligible to participate for 2 weeks. In addition, any student who has a “D” in any class is ineligible to miss school for any athletic/activity related events for the following week. In addition, in the 17-18 school year, any students who misses more than one class period during the school day may not participate in practice that evening.
By holding these students to more strict academic standards than in the past, administrators are attempting to promote and encourage dedication to education as well as athletics or other extracurriculars.
Although the most essential component to success as a DHS student is doing well within classes, raised academic standards mean more stress and responsibility for students. “You can’t expect us to keep our grades at a higher level than others while we have practice and a job. It’s a lot for a teenager to handle,” sais Jr. Dominick Maestas, a member of the DHS football team. These students feel as though the pressure placed on them is unfair because they are already managing more than students who do not participate in a sport or activity.
On the other hand, head girls basketball coach Tim Fitzpatrick feels as though the increasing standards are completely adequate. “I hold my girls to the policy the school sets,” said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick believes that the existing policy has enough requirements to maintain a competitive team average GPA and better the program and the athletes within it as a whole, without completely overwhelming his athletes. Mandatory study hall sessions and frequent grade checks are used during season to help athletes maintain these standards and ensure academic success within the program.
The academic policy, although only officially applied to students participating in extracurriculars offered through DHS, has a significant effect on teachers as well. “I think we should come up with a new system where grades towards the end of the semester are worth more points,” said Ann Tidwell, who teaches both regular and AP Chemistry.
At the beginning of the year when students first start missing classes to travel with a team or club, one missing assignment can have an extremely negative impact on a student’s grade, possibly rendering them ineligible. Teachers have to figure out how to quickly help students repair their grade, which creates a pressured situation for both the student and the teacher.
Although the recently updated policy hold students to more challenging standards than previous years, the ultimate goal is to help students who participate in extracurriculars maintain high academic standards and stay on top of graduation requirements.