Back to School: Extracurriculars can provide extra opportunities for students

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

From sports to robotics, extracurricular school activities provide children with educational experiences they would not normally find in the classroom.
Extracurricular activities are widely known as tools to expand the knowledge of the academically gifted. However, Pearl River Central Athletic Director Larry Dolan said extracurricular activities also provide incentive to keep struggling students in school.
“There is no better drop out prevention plan than getting students involved in extracurriculars,” Dolan said. “For those that are not your top notch students or just not interested in school, extracurricular activities can motivate them to come to school and get their education in something they enjoy.”
Dolan’s 25 years as a high school football coach helps him understand the importance of being involved in a sport or club and how it can help students achieve their dreams.
“As educators, we know that education is the most important gift you can give a kid, but if they are not here, you can’t teach them,” he said.
If students find an interest in football, band, a chess club or any other extracurricular, that participation could provide the motivation they need to continue pursuing academics.
Extracurricular activities can also prepare students for the future while developing critical skills such as leadership, teamwork, creativity and social skills.
“Extracurricular activities allow students to explore other academia and find their passion in life. Kids are not going to find what they truly love in life in a textbook, but clubs like robotics, dance and ROTC can do that,” Maureen Pollitz, Nicholson Elementary’s gifted teacher, said.
Pollitz was heavily involved in the robotics club for 12 years, and said she has seen many of those students go on to get their Ph. D. in engineering.
“Because of the opportunity these students had growing up to be part of extracurricular activities, they found their passion and ran with it all the way to the highest level of education,” Pollitz said. “Many future leaders and professionals can be cultivated through extracurriculars.”
Extracurricular activities can help provide students in low-income families the opportunity to earn scholarships and build a personal resume.
In college, students encounter a diverse student population. A nearly similar experience is found when participating in extracurricular activities, Pollitz said.
“In these activities, you will meet a wide range of people, but it’s just like college. Once you know what you are going to study, you begin to take classes with people who share the same interests as you do. Extracurriculars provide a small slice of the college experience and get you prepared for that transition,” she said.
Pollitz said she always tells her students to get involved in something beneficial outside of the classroom because it can also help with building time management skills.
“Extracurriculars not only keep a student busy, but it also helps them keep their life organized,” she said.
Dolan said extracurricular activities can be a lot of different things to a lot of different kids, but with the wide variety of clubs and teams to join in the local schools, there should be something for every student.

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