Extracurricular grade-point policy trimming Stonington ranks

Stonington - A new policy that requires high school students to have at least a 2.0 (or C) grade point average to participate in sports and extracurricular activities resulted in nine football players and one drama student being declared academically ineligible after first-quarter grades were released this fall, according to a report received by the school board last week.

The academically ineligible students represented approximately 2.5 percent of those involved in fall activities.

Of the nine football players, seven had GPAs between 1.7 and 1.9, while two were below 1.0 (or D). The drama student had a 1.8 GPA.

After the Dec. 6 progress report, which comes midway through the second quarter, six students are ineligible to participate in winter activities, according to Principal Stephen Murphy.

The new requirement was proposed this past spring by Superintendent Van Riley, who said at that time, "What we're all about is academic success and athletics second. I think it's important to raise our standards."

The previous standard was that of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which allows students to participate in sports with a 0.6 GPA. "A 0.6 is not what we want," Riley said when proposing the change.

Murphy said the new rule, which took effect this fall, was well explained to both students and parents at the beginning of the school year.

Ineligible students are not necessarily banned for the entire quarter. If they are able to bring up their grades when the five-week progress report is issued, they can be reinstated. Their progress is reviewed at both the end of the marking period and the progress report.

"I think it's working really well. We really haven't had any pushback on it," said Murphy, adding that it's making students more accountable for their performance.

According to the report from Murphy and Assistant Principal Mark Friese, "coaches may institute their own rules, guidelines and expectations relative to academics and playing time with the approval of the principal or his/her designee."

They said teachers and coaches "routinely talk about this requirement and stress the resources available to students to improve their grades."

These include extra help from teachers after school and during office hours, during the extended lunch period known as X-Block, and with peer tutoring.

They said that when they discussed the requirement recently with student athletes, the "vast majority" supported the 2.0 requirement and some "even expressed a desire to raise the limit."

j.wojtas@theday.com

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