As I shared last month, our district has been reflecting on ways to further support the development of our students beyond academics.
While academic achievement is a key focus, we continue to seek ways to support our students in developing the non-academic skills and habits necessary to ensure they are successful after high school.
Those skills include perseverance, the ability to work in a team toward a common goal, effective communication skills and outright respect for others. While we can develop these skills in our classrooms, it is most important that we work together as a community to set high expectations for our kids.
We know through research that students who are engaged in extracurricular activities, including clubs and sports, have higher attendance rates, are twice as likely to maintain high grade-point averages and are more likely to earn a post-secondary degree.
Teens who play sports are eight times more likely to remain active into their adult life and enjoy the associated positive health benefits. Through sports and other extracurricular activities, coaches focus on developing our teens into young men and women who respect diversity and recognize rules and high expectations relative to academic performance, leading to the development of strong character.
While the news focuses on athletes gone awry, we often fail to recognize the typical athlete who makes us proud. Equally important is recognizing that the relationship between our athletes and the community is a two-way street. As a community, one way to get involved and provide support for sustaining our extracurricular programs is to ensure our facilities are safe and up to date.
To that end, the district is embarking on a multipurpose field and track project at Durango High School. The existing facility was built when the school was constructed, with certainly some modifications made along the way through the efforts of alumni and community donors.
The current natural grass field presents many challenges in our Colorado climate and is limited to football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. The track is currently unusable because of deterioration of its surface and foundation. Upon completion, the facility will be functional throughout the year for all athletic programs.
With school funding at the center of debate in Colorado, many may question why the district would invest capital funds in a project to rebuild the facility.
The district has committed to use a portion of funds it currently retains that are restricted to capital projects to jump start a community campaign to secure the necessary funding to complete the project. Because of statutory limitations, use of these funds is very specific and cannot include general expenses such as salaries and classroom materials.
In October, the district will kick off its “Get in the Game Durango” campaign in partnership with the Durango Education Foundation. I welcome your questions or comments about this project.
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.