Urey Middle School Sees Major Increase in Extracurricular Involvement
Writer / Angela Cornell
Involvement in extracurricular activities can help children improve academically, increase their attendance, and be more socially and emotionally balanced. At Harold C. Urey Middle School in Walkerton, 90% of the approximately 330 students are involved in one or more sports, clubs or co-curricular activities.
“One of our goals at the start of this year was to get as many of our kids involved in some sort of extracurricular activity,” says Athletic Director Pat Crone. “Just get them involved in something to where they can feel the connection or be a part of the school.”
The faculty and staff got behind the movement from the beginning of the school year and encouraged the kids as much as possible. The fruits of their labor became evident when they did a school-wide survey about student involvement in extracurriculars.
“We’re really happy with the 90%,” Crone says.
Athletically, there has been a lot of involvement throughout the year, especially in football, basketball, volleyball and soccer. Much to the excitement of the athletic department and student body alike, the school was able to offer girls and boys soccer teams.
“In the past our soccer team has always been a coed,” Crone says. “We’re excited to offer that in the future.”
The e-sports teams program has also been extremely popular, to the point that elementary school children are looking forward to getting into seventh and eighth grades so that they, too, can participate in e-sports.
Even reluctant participants have been convinced to give extracurriculars a shot.
“They’re at least trying it,” says Max Blevins, seventh-grade health and physical education teacher. “Our principal likes to say, ‘Try it for two weeks. Give us two weeks.’ Most of the time when the kids come out for two weeks, they end up staying because they’re having fun.”
Sometimes it takes a little scouting on the part of the teachers in the athletic department.
“In P.E. class you can kind of see a kid’s talent and what they might be good at,” says David Lichtenbarger, eighth-grade health and physical education teacher. “Simply saying, ‘You’re really good at this. Have you ever thought about participating in track?’ I think identifying those kids in P.E. class and telling them what they might be good at, and exposing them to it and promoting it, goes a long way.”
School involvement has done more than give teens holistic activities to enjoy after school. It has also brought about an improvement in academic pursuits.
“What we were really excited about was that when our first nine-week report card came out, the number on our F list was the lowest it’s been in several years and the lowest it’s been in the memory of some of our veteran teachers,” Crone says. “It’s usually three or four pages. This time around it was only one page.”
With all of that, it’s hardly a surprise that student attitudes and classroom atmospheres have improved, which makes it easier for the teachers to encourage the best in their students.
“What Mr. Lichtenbarger and I like to do is make sure that all the kids, regardless of their athletic ability, get to participate and have fun in our classes,” Blevins says. “Them having fun during P.E. class makes them think, ‘I might as well try.’”
This makes the kids try harder, which brings about better results in the classroom and extracurricular arenas. This ends up forming an upwardly-mobile, circular trend that improves the school as a whole.
For more information, check out Urey Middle School online at www.jgsc.k12.in.us/urey-middle-school.html or follow them on social media.