Graner: Winners all around in high school sports

At last week's Board of Education meeting, Amanda Fagan, the high school principal, delivered a report about the high school sports program that showed the great success of the teams. However, the most impressive statistic that Fagan shared was not the number of victories that our teams have achieved, but rather the high percentage of students who participate in interscholastic sports.

Ledyard High School has celebrated several highlights this year, including state championships in volleyball and wrestling, as well as conference championships in volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, boys indoor track, and girls fencing. All of those accomplishments are outstanding, and the school community took well-deserved pride in those championship performances.

However, Fagan also provided details regarding the number of students who competed in sports this year. She explained that 60 percent of the entire student body are members of our freshmen, junior varsity and varsity teams; that compares well with the state average of 45 percent participation in school sports.

The board members were delighted that three of every five students is a competitive athlete; having such a high percentage of student athletes is a strong indicator of the quality of the overall high school program. The statistic also shows that students at Ledyard High are participating in well-balanced curricular and extracurricular offerings.

In addition to the overall percentage of student athletes, Fagan gave the details on the number of athletes in each of the 25 interscholastic teams that the school fields. Several board members noted with pride that the percentage of girls participating in sports is nearly equal to that of boys. Of the 557 athletes at the high school this year, 284 are boys and 273 are girls.

Under the excellent leadership of our athletic director, Jim Buonocore, the high school has experienced a significant increase in the number of athletes, especially for female teams. This year alone, the Board of Education has added three teams to the high school (freshmen volleyball, freshmen girls' tennis and freshmen baseball).

The board support for sports has been unwavering and has contributed to a school environment where all aspects of the school program are valued: academics, athletics and the arts. Sports victories are wonderful, but the participation figures show that a large percentage of students "winning" at sports and the competition will teach them life-long lessons that will serve the student athletes in the years to come.

MICHAEL GRANER IS SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS IN LEDYARD.

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