By Tim Linscott
An open discussion was the motive of bringing up the amount of offerings at Perkins County High School, and that discussion has led to some changes in activities in the coming years.
In March, board member Jayson Bishop brought up at the monthly school board meeting the notion that there may be too many activities and offerings at the school, considering the size of the student population, causing students to spend long hours on school grounds.
The school board agreed to conduct a survey of students in grades nine to 11 to get an idea of what activities would be utilized in the district.
Perkins County Schools activities director Carlie Wells conducted the survey with students—and PCS offers the most activity choices of similar-sized schools in the region.
PCS offers more activity choices for students than Chase County, North Platte St. Patrick’s and Cambridge (See chart ‘Activity Comparison’).
PCS offers 29 activities, including 16 Nebraska Schools Activity Association (NSAA) activities, which is equal to the same number offered by Bridgeport.
North Platte St. Patrick’s offers three non-NSAA activities and PCS offers 13.
“We had a lengthy discussion between the board and the administration on things to consider,” Bishop said. “You always hate to cut opportunities for students, but, for me personally, I wanted to give the students opportunities but not have them so swamped with activities.”
Another consideration for the board’s decision, according to Bishop, was to keep coaches and sponsors in the classrooms and not over-burden them with hectic schedules as well.
“I think having teachers and staff in the classroom more is a good thing,” Bishop said. “We are still offering as many activities as any school our size in the area.”
In projecting out possible scenarios for the next few school years, the board decided to combine girls and boys golf after it was revealed by the survey that four girls were interested in golf next year.
PCS Superintendent William Hakonson explained that there is no other situation in high school where three sports for girls are offered in one fall season: cross country, volleyball and girls golf. The board wanted to give the girls who did want to golf the opportunity to do so on the boys team in the spring.
The situation will be re-considered at the May 12 school board meeting upon the request of interested parents and individuals.
The fall musical and spring play will be combined into one production a year, to be held in the fall, alternating between a musical and play dependent on students’ abilities and interests.
“The reason we discussed and worked on this is to have the kids not be so busy,” Hakonson said. “We want more opportunities for family time.”
Of the respondents to the survey in the current seventh and eighth grades, 47 students responded, and the fall activity next year the most students are expected to participate in is Future Farmers of America (FFA) with 53.19 percent of respondents choosing that activity with football (48.94 percent) and music/choir (38.3 percent) rounding out the top three.
Girls golf (6.38 percent) and cheerleading and marching band (tied at 8.51 percent) were the lowest projected of the activities offered in the fall.
The top three winter activities are basketball (68.09 percent), speech (48.94 percent) and FCCLA/swing choir tied for third (27.66 percent). The bottom three activities are wrestling (10.64 percent), science club (12.77 percent) and ‘none’ (4.26 percent).
In the spring, the top three activities are track (68.09 percent), spring play (36.17 percent) and vocal music (29.79 percent). The least favorite activities projected were instrumental music (17.02 percent), boys golf (12.77 percent) and ‘none’ (2.13 percent).
For current grades 9-11 there were 61 respondents with the top fall activities being FFA (54.10 percent), football (31.15 percent) and mock trial/One Acts tied for third (24.59 percent).
The bottom three included girls golf (1.64 percent), ‘none’ (8.20 percent) and cheerleading (11.48 percent).
In the winter, that group chose speech as the top activity (45.90 percent) with basketball second (44.26 percent) and pep band as third (22.95 percent). The bottom three were wrestling (4.92 percent), swing choir (6.56 percent) and FCCLA (14.75 percent).
The top three activities are track (47.54 percent), ‘none’ (21.31 percent) and spring play (19.67 percent).
The bottom three were swing choir (8.20 percent), boys golf/vocal music tied for second (14.74 percent) and instrumental music (18.03 percent).
Hakonson believes a yearly survey of students will be conducted by Wells and reviewed by the school board.
“We are certainly tops in what we offer students but family time is important, too,” Hakonson said.
Wells feels with the district being a smaller C2 or larger D1 the need will be evident yearly, or at least every other year, looking at the numbers of students coming up through the various activities.
The current sixth grade class at PCS has only five girls. In three middle and upper elementary grades, there are 23 female students, which could make it hard for activities and sports to fill rosters.
“It is great that we offer that many activities, I believe it is an advantage for our school and our kids, however, we don’t want to stretch the kids out too far,” Wells said.