• Essay Project 2021

Essay Project 2021: Extracurriculars in the Modern World


By Keith Heyboer


There are many of them in our nation's high schools. Those who fly out the door and away from school as soon as their last class ends. No after-school programs or clubs to keep them after the last bell. They don't reap the rewards of extracurricular activities. Engagement at school may be difficult at times, but numerous studies have shown there to be many advantages to participating in activities afterwards. By not being engaged in school, such students are missing out on numerous things from better academic performance and standardized test scores to preparation for the modern world.


Whether it’s Everson and Millsap or Darling, Caldwell, and Smith, researchers have found that there’s a clear connection between student engagement in extracurriculars and their academic performance. They are especially important as they help those who would otherwise do poorly by providing a supportive environment in which to learn. An educated populace has proved extremely valuable for everyone in an increasingly complicated world. The benefits of extracurriculars don’t only help students: They help the community.


A teacher at a local school described extracurriculars as helping to teach sportsmanship, teamwork, and accountability. These are important skills that have become even more valuable as communication and collaboration change to meet current needs. She also described the way in which students worked together to try to help others during a difficult year. Those students have learned to count on each other and themselves.


The choices we make in high school impact the rest of our lives. Each must decide whether to be in the group that leaves as soon as possible or the one that bands together for a common goal. In the words of Jules Verne: “If his destiny be strange, it is also sublime.”


This essay is part of a writing project by students in Chandra Polasek’s ELA class at Portland High School. The project asked students to focus on elements of their own town while getting students engaged with the community. The essays were written with the intention of being published in The Portland Beacon.


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