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County School Board approves official policy

The Pulaski County School Board voted yesterday to make a current practice regarding athletic participation into an official board policy.
The approved policy officially allows middle school eighth grade students who are “particularly athletically skilled in a sport” to practice and compete, at the discretion of their coach, with a team at the ninth grade or junior varsity level. This policy only applies after the season for that same sport at the middle school level has ended.
This policy was originally listed as an “informational item” on the board’s agenda, but board member Rodell Cruise suggested that it be moved to an “action” item.
Cruise expressed his support for the policy and explained that he spoke with a coach for a winter sport at Pulaski County High School who was interested in taking advantage of this policy, so the sooner the board approved it, the sooner the coach and his team could benefit from it.
PCHS principal Rod Reedy spoke on behalf of the school’s coaches by saying that this policy could help them to have the best programs possible.
He said that if coaches have the opportunity to work with an “extraordinarily” gifted athlete at the end of their eighth grade year, it can help accelerate their skills and benefit both the athlete and the team.
Reedy also said that other schools in the state already have this policy, so this will help put PCHS on the same playing level as other teams.
Board member John Wenrich said that in the past, all eighth grade athletes seemed to be moving up and participating at the sub-varsity level, but he doesn’t believe that is fair to the high school students who are already on the team, and that he does believe it should be just the “athletically-gifted” students who move up.
However, he questioned the criteria for identifying athletically-gifted students.
Board member Pam Chitwood said that she is aware of teams at PCHS with “huge rosters,” such as the ninth grade football team, in which some of the students don’t even get to play, because the football culture at PCHS is to build championship teams with the strongest athletes.
She commented that by approving this policy, she believes they will be “making a statement about how competitive we are.”
Cruise said that is just the decision they will have to make, whether to let everyone play or to focus on the athletes who have the most talent and potential.
Chitwood said she would like to see the implementation of intramural sports, because “kids still like to play, and they should.”
Cruise said he thought that was a “good idea,” and added that some kids still like to play sports, but just not at such a competitive level.
Board chairman Paul Phillips commented that he believes there are a lot of potentially gifted athletes who are “weeded out” after their 7th grade year because they don’t make the cut at the eighth grade and high school level, so they stop playing. He said he would also like to take a look at how many athletes excel in sports in college and later on in life, but didn’t play a minute in middle school.
Phillips added that there needs to be an improvement, particularly in middle school, to allow more students to be involved in sports at that level.
Mike Goff, PCHS activities director, commented that there are plenty of other teams besides football and basketball for students to become involved with at PCHS, such as swimming, track, soccer, tennis, etc.
“The opportunities are there, but they just have to find their niche,” he said.
Chitwood agreed with Goff’s comment, and said that they should be encouraging athleticism in general and broadening awareness about all the athletic programs that are offered, and that there are plenty of opportunities to build and promote intramural programs.
Ultimately, the School Board vote was 3 to 2, with Chitwood, Cruise and Jeff Bain voting “yes” in favor of the policy, and Phillips and Wenrich voting “no.”

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County School Board approves official policy

The Pulaski County School Board voted yesterday to make a current practice regarding athletic participation into an official board policy.
The approved policy officially allows middle school eighth grade students who are “particularly athletically skilled in a sport” to practice and compete, at the discretion of their coach, with a team at the ninth grade or junior varsity level. This policy only applies after the season for that same sport at the middle school level has ended.
This policy was originally listed as an “informational item” on the board’s agenda, but board member Rodell Cruise suggested that it be moved to an “action” item.
Cruise expressed his support for the policy and explained that he spoke with a coach for a winter sport at Pulaski County High School who was interested in taking advantage of this policy, so the sooner the board approved it, the sooner the coach and his team could benefit from it.
PCHS principal Rod Reedy spoke on behalf of the school’s coaches by saying that this policy could help them to have the best programs possible.
He said that if coaches have the opportunity to work with an “extraordinarily” gifted athlete at the end of their eighth grade year, it can help accelerate their skills and benefit both the athlete and the team.
Reedy also said that other schools in the state already have this policy, so this will help put PCHS on the same playing level as other teams.
Board member John Wenrich said that in the past, all eighth grade athletes seemed to be moving up and participating at the sub-varsity level, but he doesn’t believe that is fair to the high school students who are already on the team, and that he does believe it should be just the “athletically-gifted” students who move up.
However, he questioned the criteria for identifying athletically-gifted students.
Board member Pam Chitwood said that she is aware of teams at PCHS with “huge rosters,” such as the ninth grade football team, in which some of the students don’t even get to play, because the football culture at PCHS is to build championship teams with the strongest athletes.
She commented that by approving this policy, she believes they will be “making a statement about how competitive we are.”
Cruise said that is just the decision they will have to make, whether to let everyone play or to focus on the athletes who have the most talent and potential.
Chitwood said she would like to see the implementation of intramural sports, because “kids still like to play, and they should.”
Cruise said he thought that was a “good idea,” and added that some kids still like to play sports, but just not at such a competitive level.
Board chairman Paul Phillips commented that he believes there are a lot of potentially gifted athletes who are “weeded out” after their 7th grade year because they don’t make the cut at the eighth grade and high school level, so they stop playing. He said he would also like to take a look at how many athletes excel in sports in college and later on in life, but didn’t play a minute in middle school.
Phillips added that there needs to be an improvement, particularly in middle school, to allow more students to be involved in sports at that level.
Mike Goff, PCHS activities director, commented that there are plenty of other teams besides football and basketball for students to become involved with at PCHS, such as swimming, track, soccer, tennis, etc.
“The opportunities are there, but they just have to find their niche,” he said.
Chitwood agreed with Goff’s comment, and said that they should be encouraging athleticism in general and broadening awareness about all the athletic programs that are offered, and that there are plenty of opportunities to build and promote intramural programs.
Ultimately, the School Board vote was 3 to 2, with Chitwood, Cruise and Jeff Bain voting “yes” in favor of the policy, and Phillips and Wenrich voting “no.”

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