Opportunities: Has the third high school made a difference?

Since before it was even in the planning stages, one of the supporting arguments for building Davies High School was the increase in opportunities it would provide for south side students.

Has that been true? Early signs – participation data since the year before Davies student groups were separated from their South High classmates – indicate that it is. In the fall of 2009, activities for South and Davies students (those that had the participation numbers to stand on their own) began to exist independently at the freshman and sophomore levels. A year later, JV and varsity programs followed suit. The rest remained blended until the data justified splitting the clubs, sports or activities.

Early winners in the activities that split off were a mixture of those that had participant limits and those that were “no-cut.” In 2010-11, these ranged from football, cross country and cheerleading to danceline, one- and three-act plays, tennis and soccer, to name a few. Other activities, such as swimming, wrestling, music, speech and debate, newspapers and yearbook took longer.

Today, the large majority of Davies and South activities, clubs and sports exist comfortably under the emblems of their school mascots. Additionally, across the District, most activities have shown an increase in participation as well.

In a report to the Board of Education on November 13, District Activities Director Todd Olson gave a snapshot of participation levels. According to the District’s numbers, from 2010-11 to 2011-12, extracurricular activity participation in all secondary schools showed an increase of 5.5 percent, with over 75 percent of students involved in at least one activity. This was driven largely by increases at Davies, North, and Woodrow schools. (South’s rate remained steady.)

From 2009-10 (the last year before Davies student participation rates were tallied) to 2011-12, there were some clear winners. A sampling of select activities showed significant increases in such activities as Show Choir (114.6%), French Club (78.3%), DECA (54.8%), boys basketball (47.3%), volleyball (34.9%), and girls swimming and diving (34.6%). That same sampling shows small decreases in drama (10.7%), band (9.2%), and orchestra (2.5%).

There are some sporting activities in the District that continue to use cooperative agreements (“co-ops”) between schools, or between FPS and other school districts. Many of these were put into place within the last decade, at the request of a nearby district so that one or more of their students could participate in the sport. These include sports such as wrestling, cross country, gymnastics, and hockey, and include the schools of Grace Lutheran, Kindred, Shanley, Sullivan, Oak Grove, and Park Christian. Those schools’ athletes participate on teams at North and South High Schools wearing the Spartan or Bruin uniforms.

Participant data from younger age groups, particularly within sports activities, indicate the direction individual programs are headed. For example, South girls hockey currently exists as a co-op team with Davies under the South name. Data projections, however, indicate a bubble building in Davies girls hockey within the next three years.

In other sports, there are statewide trends at play. Data shows a decrease in participation in some sports, namely girls basketball and gymnastics. This is where recruiting within the schools by coaches and staff for any activity, in the end, can make a difference.

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