— the drop-out rate for athletes was less than 1 percent, while non-athletes left school at a rate of 10.32 percent; and
— high school athletes graduate at a rate of 99.4 percent; non-athletes 93.5 percent.
Overton’s study just looked at North Carolina high schools, but similar studies have been conducted by the University of Michigan, University of Kansas, University of Iowa and others. The results are all the same. Athletes generally fare better in a classroom than non-athletes.
And it’s not just athletes who benefit from extracurricular activities. Studies looking at students in music, art and drama programs show similar results.
These studies should not be a surprise to those of us who cheer from the sidelines and applaud in school auditoriums.
Sadly, though, many of these successful programs have already been eliminated from area schools. Gymnastics, wrestling and swimming in the North Country are on life support. Almost every school in the region has made cuts to athletics the past few years — particularly at the modified and junior varsity levels — as school boards have struggled to balance budgets.
And it’s not just sports. Music, art, drama and academic enrichment programs have been cut to meet the state’s tax cap.
Next spring school boards will again be faced with making difficult choices as they prepare budgets. Those of us who enjoy and support our students in extracurricular activities now should make a mental note to do the same in a few months by making that support known to school board members.
While most of us enjoy the exploits of students on the playing field and in the auditorium, it’s important to remember it’s not all fun and games. Extracurricular activities teach lessons outside the classroom while serving as a source of entertainment and pride in a community.