Extracurriculars second to academics

Extracurriculars second to academics

Artwork by Ellie Zak '14 | Staff Writer
Artwork by Ellie Zak '14 | Staff Writer

High school is about self-discovery.  In order to achieve this, students need the opportunity to try new things.  But with extracurriculars and cocurriculars taking up so much of students’ time, it is becoming nearly impossible to do more than a few activities outside of school.

The administration is drafting rules that would limit the amount of hours extracurriculars and cocurriculars could meet.  While there are many questions about how to implement these guidelines, the administration has taken a step in the right direction.

There is no doubt that students are feeling stressed with both academics and extracurricular activities, with students becoming more and more concerned about college applications. These commitments often take away from studying and family time, and bottom line, these are more important to students.

Often, practices and rehearsals consume vacation time, weekends and even midterm week. Students, parents and teachers must ask if this is our priority, that these activities should take so many hours away from family, friends and studies. Most students will not be professional musicians or athletes, so the focus must be kept on academics.

That said, extracurricular activities are very important to students at this school. In many cases, they promote better time management among students. Overall, these limits can help groups use time more efficiently after school, while also allowing them to continue to excel.

  But with extracurriculars and cocurriculars taking up so much of students’ time, it is becoming nearly impossible to do more than a few activities outside of school.

Although the idea of a policy to keep activities from consuming too much time is well-intentioned, the difficulty lies in implementing such policies.

For example, it would be extremely difficult to monitor aextracurriculars and cocurriculars.  With so many different activities at South, it would be impossible for administrators to personally check up on all groups. 

Either extra staff would need to be hired, or trusted leaders within the groups would need to honestly report the amount of hours they met to the administration. Both of these scenarios, however, are flawed. Hiring extra help would cost the school money, while allowing extra and cocurriculars to report their hours gives them the freedom to alter actual numbers based on what they consider to be official group meetings or “voluntary meetings.”

It would also be easy for dedicated groups that are known for using a lot of time to meet discreetly and get more hours in without reporting them to the administration. These regulations could backfire and lead to more destruction and lies. 

Even if curricular groups were caught going over their limit, what would the punishment be, and who would be punished?  Would they receive less funding, or would the administration have to further limit their hours? 

It will be key for the administration to develop adequate penalties for violators, as simple guidelines will not be enough to detract them from working extra hours. Perhaps the most effective punishment would be to dock the amount of hours the group can work after school, as the NCAA sometimes does. The adviser also needs to be held accountable for severe violations, such as with suspensions or fines.

When the administration moves forward with this huge endeavor, it is very important that leaders of all the groups fully understand the rules.  A meeting should be held in which advisers and coaches can ask questions about the regulations, and make sure there is no confusion.

Hopefully these regulations will demonstrate to coaches and advisers that students can be overwhelmed and academics are the main priority at South. It’s encouraging that the administration is concerned about the well-being of its students, but it is going to take a lot of organizing and coordinating to create effective regulations.

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