Sunday, November 20, 2011

Keeping Balanced

Mr. Weber discusses the new extra-curricular policy with students.

Keeping balanced is one of the most challenging things about being a student at JPII. There are so many good things to be part of in this school—from athletics, to Model UN, from Chorus to Instrumental Music, from Math teams to Science Olympiad teams—that it’s easy to overcommit ourselves and for our studies to get the short end of the stick. Notice the choice isn’t usually something like: do I do my homework tonight, or should I go out and get drunk? It isn’t a choice between good and bad. It’s most often a choice between good and good, and keeping all these good things you want to do in some sort of order.

That’s why we implemented the extra-curricular policy this year, to help you keep things in balance. Just to be clear about the policy:

If you have more than 2 or more F’s at mid-quarter or the end of the quarter, you are placed on academic probation, and sidelined from any school activity that takes place outside of the 7:50-3:10 school day.

That probation lasts a minimum of one full week. To become eligible to play for the next week, you must get permission from all 8 of your teachers on Thursday or Friday via a signed form, and give that form to your coaches or advisor.

That will allow you to participate from Monday through Friday of the following week, but you must take around the same form and have your teachers sign the form if you want to play the week after that, and so on until the next set of mid-quarters or quarter grades come out and it’s determined if you’re off academic probation.

It’s your responsibility—not your teachers, your coaches, nor your advisor—to get those forms signed. If they’re not completely signed, you’re ineligible for another week.

And what are teachers looking for before they can sign permission for you to participate again? One simple word: effort. You may be in a class that is tough for you, and even if you work really hard, you may not do well on a test every now and then. But all 580 of you have complete control over how much effort you put into a class.

It’s not hard for teachers to determine if you’re trying or not. It begins with homework. I know there are other schools and school systems that have given up on the idea of requiring homework, but we haven’t. That’s YOUR commitment to your studies, and you’re either doing it or you're not. The second way for a teacher to determine effort is whether or not you’re going to tutorials. If you’re failing a subject because the material is hard, and you’re not coming in to get extra help, you’re not taking the steps you need to get yourself right. The third piece is making up missed work: Have you or haven't you? Those are the questions teachers will be pondering before they do or don’t sign your permission to participate the following week.

So I think it’s important to realize that becoming re-eligible is not a matter of bringing your grade back to passing. You may have had a bad test grade and getting your grade back up isn’t something you can do in one week. It’s not about getting your grade restored, but your effort restored. If you really care about the activity you’ve been sidelined from, you have the ability to get yourself right back within the week by working hard in those classes. We believe if the effort is right, the grade will usually take care of itself.

As I look over the academic probation list, I have an observation. At the end of the first quarter, we had the best set of grades and fewest failures in the history of JPII. Unfortunately, as a result, some of you decided to give yourself a vacation during the first four weeks of this quarter, as if you can't tolerate prosperity. I hope you're back from vacation! If you’re a hockey player, the team needs you back. If you’re a choral student, the Christmas concert is just around the corner and they need you. If you play basketball, this could be a special season if you keep up with your studies. Do what you need to do. Don’t let your team, your coach, or your advisor down.

Get the balance right and enjoy all the good things JPII has to offer.

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