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The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities


District 203 schools offer far more than just academic instruction. The district has a talented pool of employees who offer a wide range of extracurricular activities that provide a variety of benefits to students.

While students spend the majority of their school time learning academic disciplines (math, science, language arts, social science), their overall educational experience can be enhanced by their involvement in extracurricular activities.

While the academic excellence of District 203 is well known, what is perhaps less well known are the many opportunities that are open to students in after-school activities at the junior high and high school levels. These activities are sponsored by teachers and staff for the benefit of the students, allowing them to explore new areas or develop further skills in an area of interest, develop new friendships, and give the students an opportunity to interact with teachers outside of the classroom, something that can enhance the in-class interaction of the student with particular teachers (as the teachers gain knowledge of the student outside of the classroom). The activities can supplement the district goals for the students, enhancing academic achievement and helping students make progress toward each strand of the mission statement. For example, extracurricular activities may help students become more collaborative, become more complex thinkers, as well as community contributors, goals outlined as part of the D203 mission statement. With such a large number of extracurricular activities available, students have a wide range of opportunities.

Junior High Extracurricular Activities

Junior high school is a time when opportunities to explore extracurricular interests beyond classroom work widens greatly. District 203 excels in the range of extracurricular activities that are offered, including sports, music and drama, academic intramurals, and activities that may combine community outreach with any of these activities.

The most popular extracurricular activities seem to revolve around sports, and the junior high schools offer both interscholastic and intramural sports. A wide range of intramural sports are offered to 6th graders, to give them an opportunity to experience a variety of activities and group interactions. Some of the intramural sports which have been offered (based on the interests of the students) are flag football, kickball, rock-wall climbing, bowling, golf, and soccer. They are typically offered before or after school.

Interscholastic sports give students a chance to engage in competition with schools in the district and from neighboring districts. For 7th and 8th grades at Washington Junior High School, for example, interscholastic sports include, for the fall: cross country (co-educational), volleyball (girls), football (largely boys but girls have also participated). Winter sports include wrestling (boys), basketball (boys), and cheerleading. Finally, the spring sports offered are girls' basketball and track (co-educational). Many students choose to participate in these activities, and as some of the sports are non-cut, large numbers of students can be accommodated.

For those students who are interested in broadening their academic experience, there are math teams, student government, newspaper, literary magazine and yearbook groups. Science Olympiad is offered at WJHS, and is similar to a science fair, allowing students to show off their prowess in the sciences.

For the student musicians, there are additional band, chorus and orchestra groups that exist outside of normal class hours (jazz bands and blue-grass string groups, for example). Some of these groups do double duty by performing at community events - an example is the performance of the junior high jazz bands at the annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. A musical is staged every year for those wishing to participate in an activity that encompasses acting, singing and dancing, and for those who want to learn stage crew activities such as set-building and stage set-ups, along with sound management. And some schools offer a talent show, where a variety of student talent is on display, much to the delight of the students, who enjoy watching their peers perform.

High School Extracurricular Activities

If junior high school extracurricular activities are about exposure to new things and skill development in those new areas, high school extracurricular activities provide these same lessons and also practical experience for what's to come in a post high-school environment, whether that is work-related or post-secondary school-related. Entering high school in District 203, students have a wide range of clubs and activities available to them. The current activities handbook for NNHS lists at least 80 different clubs. Once again, these activities may support not only the academic interests of students, but also provide opportunities to students to explore things beyond the classroom. What follows is a brief listing of what's available at the high school level, though each high school may offer different activities based on the interest of its students. The Student Activities office at each school can provide the most-up-to-date information on current activities.

Interscholastic sports teams run in every season for both girls and boys (although the rosters for football and wrestling are male). There are 8 sports that are offered at NNHS in the fall, 6 in the winter, and 11 sports offered in the spring. They include (in random order): football, wrestling, cross-country, golf, soccer, gymnastics, track, baseball, softball, water polo, tennis and volleyball. Many District 203 teams have reached the level of finals at the state level, with some winning state championships. A visit to each of the high school physical education areas will demonstrate through trophy and records displays the caliber of student athletes that participate in and are coached to excellence in the sports programs offered.

Non-traditional sport and fitness clubs exist for Yoga and Pilates, rock-climbing, skiing, hockey and lacrosse.

There are many performing arts clubs and activities. The musically inclined are offered a variety of forms. Depending on the types of instruments that students play, they can participate in string ensembles, jazz bands, marching band, and pep band. Students interested in chorus can take part in jazz choir and madrigal singing groups.

Dance groups and clubs include modern dance and flag (color-guard) teams which not only perform but also take part in interscholastic competitions. Dance interest groups exist for those who want to learn hip-hop, and break-dancing, stepping, and swing dance.

Drama activities provide performances of well-known literary works, and student-authored pieces, and a large-scale musical involving many students is carried out yearly.

Almost all of these groups present performances for family, friends, and interested community members. These groups may also participate in inter-scholastic competitions, and many have garnered recognition at the state level.

Technical crews support all of the above activities, providing set-building, sound and lighting support for all school performances that these groups carry out.

For students interested in art, there are clubs for art, film, photography, anime (Japanese animation), and graphic arts. Student work is displayed prominently and also en-tered into competitions.

For students interested in writing and journalism, there are clubs for yearbook, the newspaper, and a literary magazine.
Language clubs exist for each of the languages taught: French, Greek, German, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish. Not only does language practice take place, but also exposure to cultural experiences of the target country through socializing with exchange students (if they are present in the school), dining, and film viewing. There is also an English Language Learners partnership for non-native speakers of English.

Academic clubs cover the range of academics. Many of these clubs participate in inter-scholastic competitions and have repeatedly demonstrated the academic strengths of D203 students by winning numerous competitions: chemistry club, chess team, debate team, math teams, physics, Scholastic Bowl, Science Olympiad, speech, and science and engineering teams. There is also a National Honor Society to recognize the aca-demic talents and community involvement of students.

Business clubs offer students a broader understanding of the work world they will even-tually be entering: Business Professionals of America, Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America, Future Farmers of America, and an investment club.

Clubs of all sorts exist to meet social and political interests: student government, youth and government, AIDS awareness, Amnesty International, environmental, Habitat for Humanity, human rights club, Junior Statesmen of America, Key Club, Model United Nations, outreach fundraising (for schools in Africa), and a club organized around social justice ,which promotes awareness and understanding of the diverse cultures in school.

There are clubs devoted to school spirit: pep clubs and cheerleading for sporting events, and freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior boards to promote class unity and class spirit.

And then there are the clubs and activities which don't fit the broad categories above: auto club, broadcast club, clubs that provide special-needs students interaction oppor-tunities with general education students, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, game club, game development (software), gay-straight alliance, magicians, REACH (Responsible, Educated Adolescents Can Help), rocketry, robotics, student peers (assisting in multi-needs classrooms), and webmasters (design and maintain school website).