Submitted by Gretchen Maliska, NTPS Board President and Dr. Jennifer Thomas, North Thurston Public Schools Board Vice President

We are wrapping up the spring sports season at our secondary schools, and it has been a pleasure to watch North Thurston Public Schools students excel in various athletics: baseball, golf, soccer, softball tennis and track. Sports are not just about competition. They are about learning to be part of a team and display good sportsmanship.

Salish and Chinook Middle Schools boys soccer game. Photo courtesy: North Thurston Public Schools

In addition to sports, our schools offer various clubs to support extracurricular activities: gaming, robotics, computer science, farming, languages, powerlifting, business,and much more. We have 44 elementary school clubs, 33 middle school clubs, and an astonishing 97 high school clubs around our district.

When the NTPS School Board hosted a Community Conversation to explore Goal 3, Outcome A of our strategic plan – increased percentage of students participating in at least one positive school or community-based activitywe issued a Board determination affirming that student access to clubs and activities is essential to help all students feel connected to the school through a pro-social club or activity or participation in athletics.

In other words, when kids are part of a group, they feel more connected and engaged in their school community.

North Thurston High School Future Farmers of America club members. Photo courtesy: North Thurston Public Schools

We are making excellent progress in achieving our goal of increased participation in school or community-based activities. We saw a 10% increase in participation in high school sports from the 2019-2020 school year to the 2021-22 year. We set a goal to increase student participation by 5% more in 2022-23 and exceeded the goal by increasing participation by 8%!

While the state funds many components of basic education, it does not provide any funding for extracurricular activities including co-curricular arts experiences and athletics. We are grateful that the community supports extracurricular activities through the local Educational Programs & Operations levy.

Of course, family circumstances can impact a student’s ability to access extracurricular activities. It can be challenging for working parents to get kids to and from activities and to afford fees. It’s why the district conducts an annual review to ensure we are offering a variety of opportunities, and we have also eliminated or reduced fees. We were able to cover fees this year thanks in part to generous support from the North Thurston Education Foundation, our nonprofit partner in ensuring all students thrive regardless of circumstances.

Community members are welcome to attend events! There is always something happening in our schools, from sporting events to concerts to high school theatrical productions. Find an opportunity at the North Thurston Public Schools calendar and support our talented and creative students!


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