Activities justify missing class, say HHS leaders

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JULIE ANDERSON
The amount of class time students lose because of school-related

activities can cause concern, but the advantages outweigh the

disadvantages, according to James Thomas, activities director.



?The benefits are other things they learn that they cannot learn in

the classroom,? Thomas said.



He said activities can teach students a variety of life skills,

including teamwork.



A recent report filed by Thomas for the Kansas State High School

Activities Association shows students miss from a low of 50.3 minutes

per student for football to 2,391.3 minutes per student for FFA.



One school day equals 390 minutes.



Glen Suppes, outgoing Hillsboro High School principal, said he hears

some complaints every year about students missing class.



It isn?t that the amount of missed class time has changed much in the

past few years; rather, people are becoming more aware of the

situation, according to Suppes.



?I?ve heard more and more about coaches missing,? he said. ?It is a

whole group of students that gets hit.?



Thomas said he has not heard any concerns from parents.



?The concerns I hear are from faculty,? he said. ?That doesn?t mean

there might not be some [complaints from parents].?



Faculty members are concerned because the students are being taken out

of their classes.



?That?s a legitimate concern,? Thomas said. ?As a teacher, you can?t

say, ?We won?t bring up anything new because Johnny, Mary and Susie

are all gone, so we?ll just kind of hang there.? You can?t do that, so

they will have to miss that.?



He said students are going to miss some important concepts and he

knows teachers have pressure to decide whether to go back and review

the missed material or to go on and let absent students get the

information some other way.



?I think that is the biggest concern teachers have,? he said.



Thomas feels students pick up most of the things they miss.



?It?s amazing, I think, and history has proven, students in activities

do better in the classroom,? Thomas said. ?They figure out a way to

handle the extra work.?



One of the questions that arises is why students miss more time for

spring sports than any other seasons and why those sports can?t start

later.



Thomas said most spring sports do not start much later than fall

sports. Sometimes a baseball or softball game may have to be held

earlier if the school they are playing does not have lights at its

field.



Thomas also said it makes a difference how many students are gone. He

said six girls missing for tennis is not as noticeable as when the

baseball, softball, tennis and golf teams all leave on the same day.



?Concern always hits during spring sports, there is no question,? he

said.



?I wish there was a way we could revolve it so we don?t miss the same

thing,? Thomas said. ?If we are going to miss something, it?s going to

be those classes at the end of the day.?



He said it would be better if classes could be rotated so students do

not always miss the same class.



Because of the TEEN network, that isn?t possible. Students from the

various schools have to meet the same time every day for those

televised classes.



Block schedules also contribute to the problem. If students miss one

class period, they actually miss more than a third of their class time

for the week if the class is held on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday

and Thursday.



League policy determines scheduling, too. Mid Central Athletic

Association policy states that almost all activities have to start

after school.



One exception is the league music festival, which includes band and

choir. Students are gone all day for that contest.



?There are a few special occasions that are allowed to start early

because of the time factor,? he said.



Another organization gone frequently during the day is FFA.



?FFA has a lot of competitions that have to be done during the day,?

Thomas said. ?There is no other way they can do it.?



The KSHSAA also places limits on activity scheduling.



Students are allowed to go to only two golf, tennis or track meets

that start before 3 p.m.



Thomas said the amount of class time HHS students miss is not out of

line with other schools.



Every four years, schools across the country must report to the state

how much time students miss for each activity. Whether or not changes

are made will depend on what comes out of this year?s findings.



He said MCAA schools have talked frequently about class-time concerns,

but he does not anticipate many changes.



Without the cooperation of other schools in the league, Hillsboro

can?t do much about the situation.



?There is always the option of cutting back on the number of

activities or not letting as many kids go,? Thomas said. ?Those are

things that could be done if we get desperate.



?At this point I?m still not convinced it?s as b

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