Point: Should classes be prioritized over extracurricular activities?

Elizabeth Muratore, Staff Writer

In today’s educational landscape, budget cuts are unfortunately the new normal. Small classes, such as the research program and AP Writing, are consistently scrutinized for being under-occupied, and a common topic of debate is whether certain classes should even run at all. Classes such as Chinese have already been phased out for next year, yet no extracurricular activities to this point have had to stop running due to budget cuts. Are we living in a world and a school district where having a multitude of well-funded sports teams is more important to a school than offering a comprehensive education?

“Classes should be prioritized because the school’s obligation is to provide us with a suitable education, not to create sports stars,” said senior Nina Grauer.

Students who favor the prioritization of classes over extracurriculars in the budget vehemently reiterate a similar message: school is school because the students there take classes and apply the knowledge they gain to their future adult lives. That, ultimately, is the foundation of quality education.

“The whole reason we’re going to school is to learn; it’s what the good taxpayers of Port Washington expect,” said senior Ariel Waldman. “School is meant to prepare us for college and when the budget is allocated mostly to classes, we can have different kinds of classes, which will excite students and allow them to find their passions. Additionally, not every student is in every extracurricular so it’s difficult to split up the funds in a fair manner that would benefit the greatest number of people.”

Anyone who believes that extracurriculars should be prioritized over classes, consider this: over the course of the day, students generally spend the majority of their time taking class or doing homework. For most, even if extracurriculars take up much of their time after school, that time is still not equal to the amount of time they spend doing schoolwork in some form. Therefore, classes should not be cut over extracurriculars, when classes shape a student’s day and consequently, their school year.

“While extracurriculars are great and extremely important for the psychological health of students, people go to school primarily for the academics—they go to learn from their textbooks, lectures, and class discussions. Without properly funding the academic sphere, we’d essentially be depriving our students of this integral part of high school,” said senior Sameer Nanda.

Furthermore, classes, not extracurriculars, are what prepare the majority of students for life after high school. Some students may be exceptionally talented basketball players or singers, and so for them extracurriculars may be more of a priority than classes. However, this is a very small minority of students, and it should be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to prioritization in the school’s budget.

“We should definitely be prioritizing education over extracurriculars because it will help not only the individuals, but also everyone else in the future,” said senior Bryan Johns. “Education as a whole is the main driver of social and economic progress, when people are more educated they can get better jobs, make more money, and contribute more to society. Although some extracurriculars can lead to a career and also provide a great pastime, they aren’t as effective in preparing students as direct education is.”

Prioritizing classes over extracurriculars in the school budget should not imply that extracurriculars are trivial or unimportant. Rather, it sends a message to the school’s student body, faculty, and parents that the school is fully dedicated to providing a challenging, mentally stimulating, and worthwhile education. A school that prioritizes extracurriculars over classes cannot truthfully project this image.

“The primary purpose of a public school should be education, therefore resources should be properly allocated considering the whole point of coming to school,” said senior Iliana Ioannides.

As long as a school makes it clear that, despite budget cuts, preserving a high level of education is its priority, it should also offer a wide variety of engaging extracurriculars. However, the latter should not occur without the accepted establishment of the former.

“Education and core classes are the foundation of a good school system,” said senior Caitlin Ferris.

It is undeniable that high school sports are important to students. So is the yearbook. So, too, are the arts. But the budget must continue to prioritize classes over extracurriculars if those in charge want their school to remain highly-ranked and worth attending.