Cindy Zahrte

Cindy Zahrte

This summer I was cleaning out files and came across a guest editorial I wrote in April of 1983 for The Arrowhead, the student newspaper published by the journalism department at Tomah Senior High School.

At the time, I was a social studies teacher and the student council advisor at the high school. I decided to respond to a previous student editorial which lamented how student apathy and lack of engagement was worse than “senioritis.” I opted to focus on the positives which come from involvement in extracurricular activities rather than bemoan the fact that many students didn’t get involved.

With the start of a new school year fast approaching, it occurred to me that this is the perfect time to emphasize the value gained from student involvement in school activities. It is also worth mentioning that the vision statement of our school district, “We will provide excellent academics and co-curriculars that develop life-long learning skills for all students preparing them for our community and worldwide experiences.” It acknowledges the importance of co-curricular activities in developing skills that will prepare our students for their futures.

Here’s what I wrote in 1983 (with a few modifications to reflect our school district as a whole and editing for improved syntax):

How can we get more young people involved in different organizations and opportunities which are provided outside the classroom setting by extracurricular school activities? Let’s dwell on the positive. In what ways can extracurricular activities benefit an individual? Here are three good reasons to get involved:

1) Involvement in extracurricular activities makes school more fun. If all our schools did was offer academic classes and homework, few people (including the teachers) would enjoy school. Being involved in outside activities provides a fun learning experience for students. Studies show that young people enjoy attending school more and get better grades in classes if they have interests revolving around after-school activities and are actively involved in those activities.

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2) Involvement in extracurricular activities allows students to meet new people and make new friends. Students have an opportunity to get to know their fellow classmates and teachers better by being active in school organizations and athletics. In addition, students have the opportunity to meet other young people from different cities and schools throughout the state of Wisconsin who have interests similar to theirs.

3) Involvement in extracurricular activities develops leadership qualities. It is a fact that the single most common characteristic of successful individuals is that they were involved in student activities in school. (Note: The 2016 Redefining Ready Initiative lists student involvement in two or more co-curricular activities as a career-ready indicator.)

Who doesn’t want school to be fun or enjoyable? Who doesn’t want to make new friends with similar interests? Who doesn’t want to develop skills that will help them be successful?

No one! S, get involved. Parents: Encourage your school-aged children to join a school club or team. Whether it is the elementary musical, student council, an art or science club or the football, softball or clay target teams, being involved in an extracurricular activity won’t hurt a bit.

Indeed, just the opposite; getting involved will help your child, our schools, and our community!

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Cindy Zahrte is the superintendent of the Tomah Area School District.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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