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Our View: School not all about academics

Posted: December 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

When athletics and extra-curricular courses are supported in public schools, we all benefit in some way. And our valley has some big-time student accomplishments to hang its hat on.

As of last Saturday, it’s official: The Santa Clarita Valley has, collectively, the best prep cross-country Division II runners in the entire state.

Skeptical? With the Golden Valley boys team earning its first state title, and the Saugus girls claiming a first-ever sixth consecutive California state championship in Fresno last weekend, there is objective proof that we host the powerhouse of running athleticism in the most populous state in the nation.

And besides the SCV dominance listed above, we can boast five past state cross country titles from Hart and Canyon high schools, several individual state track champions, a nationally No. 1-ranked softball team in 2007, the 2008 national champion boys volleyball team from Valencia, Hart football taking eight CIF championships, Canyon football’s five CIF championships, several pro baseball players over the decades, nine current NFL players and a pair of 2012 Olympic hopefuls.

And that’s just the abbreviated list of athletic accomplishments.

We also claim several widely known performing-arts groups, including marching bands, color guards, theater productions, cheerleading teams and choirs from our several nationally recognized schools.

And all this comes from a geographic area of roughly 250,000 people.

And what do all these accomplishments really mean? Why are non-classroom accomplishments important?

Besides giving those students, parents, programs and schools something to brag about, it gives those students a sense of purpose, of motivation to excel.

Knowledge of language, math, science and history are infinitely important, but kids need direction and discipline to give their teachers a chance to get their lessons into their students’ heads. Extracurriculars provide that with GPA requirements and teaching students to manage their time by forcing them to schedule for class, practice/rehearsal, homework and socializing.

They also give the students a sense of purpose and pride to be connected to their schools and rewarded for their hard work.

As many can attest, the graduation light at the end of the tunnel can seem pretty dim and distant when you’ve got the foresight and life experience of a 16-year-old. But sports, dance, choir, band, etc. can turn that 5-watt bulb into a spotlight and keep students on the straight and narrow.

It’s not that football is more important than algebra, but the one complements the other for a lot of young minds out there.

We need to continue to fund and support school programs — academic and otherwise — for the sake of our students and for our future.



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