Counterpoint: Should classes be prioritized over extracurricular activities?

Rachel Kogan, Copy Writer

As the nation is currently climbing out of the deep sinkhole that was the Great Recession, the Port Washington School District continues to struggle to finance its schools. In the recent budget meeting, the board members had to make the unfortunate decision to eliminate a few classes, such as Chinese, due to recent budget cuts. However, under the new plan, extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs remain untouched.

When people speak of their high school experience, they do not focus solely on the classes they took. To some, extracurricular activities play a role greater than high school classes. Key Club, theater, debate, and many other activities provide students with the opportunity to explore and search for passions outside of the classroom. The informal atmosphere of these clubs as well as the lack of grades can provide students with the ability to release the stress accumulated from a full day of schooling. Whether it be through participating in rigorous competition, or learning skills that the classroom does not teach, extracurricular activities allow students to thrive in ways that traditional classroom settings do not allow for.

“Extracurricular activities such as clubs provide students with greater opportunities that foster creativity and allow them to explore new areas of interest,” said senior Sally Kuan.

Although classrooms may provide a foundation for a students’ interest in a certain subject area, an extracurricular activity can make the interest flourish. Many students decide to go into theater as a profession not because they learned about these subjects in classrooms, but because they actively participated in the activity outside of school. If extracurricular activities were to be cut, then students would not have the opportunity to pursue these interests that may mold their career choices.

“Not only has participating in theater helped me to grow as an individual, but also it has given me a better idea of the type of career I want to have once I’m finished with school,” said senior Wyn Stopford.  “Although I am not going to college specifically to study theater, it’s definitely something I plan to continue as an extracurricular to a great extent, and maybe someday, if I so choose, it could become a much larger part of my career plans.”

By the end of their high school career, the majority of students are forced to identify a field of study to explore in college and possibly later in life. Without the existence of extracurricular activities, it would be difficult for students to find their passion in more diverse subjects as they would not have the benefit of knowing that these options exists. They may take classes that mention these field, however, learning from a textbook about this subject can not come close to real life experience.

“The amazing experiences I had performing in high school were almost constantly threatened by budget cuts,” said Stopford.  “Luckily, none that passed had a significantly negative impact on my experience. But that is not to say that it didn’t come very close at times. If Schreiber’s theatre program were cut back any more from what it currently is, it definitely would not have been able to provide me with the same rewarding experience that it did, and I can imagine that future students would miss out on many of the wonderful opportunities I had.”

Another benefit of extracurricular activities is that they are not mandatory. Students who want to pursue their passion or hobbies that are not offered through classes tend to express their gifts through extracurricular activities like clubs.

“Since extracurricular activities are chosen by the students, they separate the students’ talents and personalities from one another,” said senior Anan Ryan. “Usually since the students prefer it more than mandatory classes, they put a lot more effort in it and prioritize them.”

Unlike classes where some students may not shine through or are not interested in, extracurricular activities are where they can boost their self-esteem and help to discover their unique talents. Schools allow for a very specific academic skill set to be honed in on, as compared to clubs which allow many different aspects of talent to be explored.

Extracurricular activities deserve priority because students will not be able to receive well-rounded education without them. In this competitive society where only numbers seem to matter, learning to communicate with diverse people and experience different areas of interest matters more than taking all AP courses.