The question or problem is the lack of or drop in participation in extracurricular activities, especially in sports.
“The students today have a lot more choices. With too many options available, sometimes the younger ones can get lost,” said BISD Athletic Director Troy Moses.
The situation was brought home this past year, particularly in athletics at A.C. Jones. Normally, the incoming freshman have 50-60 out for football. In 2011, only 22 came out for the sport, and by the end of the year, that number had dwindled to 18.
The lack of participation last year was somewhat of an anomaly. The size of the entering freshman class was down by almost 50 percent over the previous year. The Trojans had over, or right at, 400 students coming to the high school in 2010, but only a little over 200 were in the class that entered the halls at A.C. Jones last year.
The lack of participation is not just a BISD problem. Schools all over the state and nation are trending downward in athletic and extracurricular activities participation.
What can be done to remedy the situation?
The high school will be going back to eight class periods next fall. A freshman-only athletics period will allow the coaches to work more directly with the young athletes. This year, all four classes were in together, and the freshman class sometimes got lost in the shuffle.
“The ninth-grade athletes are more vulnerable, and there was a chance of them getting left behind. Having them separated, in a class by themselves, will allow the coaches to develop better relationships with them,” Moses said.
Another change will be a “pre-athletics” class at the sixth-grade level. This will enable the youngest athletes in the system to become familiar with “athletics” as a class and allow them a glimpse of what is to come.
The high school varsity and sub-varsity coaches will also be spending more time at the middle school, building relationships with the athletes and making the transition to high school less traumatic.
The lack of participation is also found in the band hall and in almost every other UIL activity, according to BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas.
“We need to get more students involved. The more they participate in at the high school level, the better their grades and test scores,” Dr. Thomas said.
“It helps the brain power.”
The superintendent also felt that Beeville has a more mobile enrollment that other area schools.
“We turned in an enrollment figure of 1,035 to the UIL in October. By mid-March, we were in the 900s. We are really a 3A school competing as a small, a very small, 4A school,” Thomas said.
In speaking generally about athletics, extracurricular activities and their relationship to grades and academic performance, both Moses and Thomas agree that a winning program is a big boost.
“Athletics is very important to our school community. A winning season helps test scores, gets the community more involved and just makes everything better,” the school chief said.
“It develops a sense of pride and creates an upturn in participation in all the activities.”
Band and the other UIL activities are not being left out of the changes. An additional band director is being hired by the district to help with getting the younger students interested in music. More attention to getting the students involved in all the UIL events will be greatly encouraged, Thomas added.