WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (11/21/12) – I’ve thought long and hard about this article, and ultimately I just feel like I need to say it. Especially now with what the new school board is facing going forward, I think it is more important now than ever before to do what is best for the students of Webster County. Consider this constructive criticism, not an attack.
I was in Clay taking pictures of their Veterans’ program when a chartered bus pulled into the parking lot. I was surprised to see the Webster County Band unloading a few moments later. My first thought was wow, I can’t believe they sprung for a bus.
It was only later, in talking to one of the parents that I learned the true story. You may already know it, but as I have been away from Webster County for nearly fifteen years, I did not.
At some point it was decided that the district would no longer provide bus transportation to any of the school’s teams or clubs. Webster County just didn’t have the money to provide bus travel. It became the responsibility of the team or club’s booster organization to arrange for bus trips.
I don’t know who made the decision or why, but personally I think this is doing a great disservice for all of the students in the district.
According to the Montana State University Extension Service, students involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to become leaders, more willing to complete tasks, more willing to voice opinions, and more likely to graduate from high school and have annual incomes of more than $50,000. Extracurricular activities are also a good way to explore social, political, and career interests.
The Nevada Cooperative Extension says, that research has found that youth who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to:
•Have better grades (Marsh, 1992)
•Have higher standardized test scores (Gerber, 1996)
•Have higher educational attainment (Hanks & Eckland, 1976)
•Attend school more regularly (Mahoney & Cairns, 1997)
•Have higher self-concepts (Marsh, 1992).
Youth who participate also have been found to be less likely to:
•Use substances (Cooley, Henriksen, Nelson & Thompson, 1995)
•Dropout of school (Mahoney & Cairns, 1997)
•Misbehave at school (Marsh, 1992)
•Commit delinquent acts (Landers & Landers, 1978)
When I attended high school the booster clubs raised money to help buy better equipment and fund specials trips. The school took care of getting us to our weekly games and competitions, because that’s what schools have always done.
Take the Webster County Band, for example. I ran a piece earlier this year about how the band didn’t have enough instruments for their kids at the Elementary Schools. This means that kids who want to learn to play an instrument can’t. If the booster clubs could put their money into the band instead of into renting a bus, then the kids in the middle schools might be able to learn to play. Then in a year or two they’ll move up to the high school band and be better musicians, which makes the high school band better. It would also make it bigger, because you would be able to retain more of the kids who dropped out after middle school.
Who wants to go learn to march when you haven’t had the equipment to learn to play?
It has been my experience that gifted athletes, in most instances, will excel at their given sport. Some of these kids will join the band, but the band also serves as a catch-all for the kids who might not be interested in sports. Band, like baseball or football, teaches kids teamwork and leadership. It teaches them goal setting. All of these are skills that you need to have if you want to succeed in life.
Not every child will go on to college. Some will go right into the work force. Those kids really need the experience of working as a team, setting goals and being a leader.
If I was sixteen again and had the choice between marching for a school that wouldn’t even give me a bus to ride on or staying home and playing XBox 360, I would probably be staying home.
I don’t believe the excuse that “kids just aren’t interested anymore” because in many other districts the sports teams and bands don’t have the same problems.
I just hope the district, going forward, can take a look at these issues. Maybe they can’t, I really don’t know. But if they can, I think it's something that should really be corrected.
If the school can spend $4 million on a building they can’t use and a half million on buses the sports teams can’t ride on, surely there is a way to provide bus transportation for Webster County School’s extracurricular activities.
J-E News Editor
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