Extracurricular activities are something that schools, parents/guardians, and other organizations talk about a lot. What does “extracurricular” mean anyway? According to Webster’s Dictionary the definition states - “not falling within the scope of a regular curriculum; specifically: of or relating to officially or semi-officially approved and usually organized student activities (such as athletics) connected with school and usually carrying no academic credit.” While as a student gets older there are many more opportunities for extracurricular activities, there are still many opportunities for younger students as well.
Each person in this world, including children, has been given many different gifts. Growing those gifts as a child matures gives them tools to become active citizens. We can all remember the person who guided us along the way whether it be a piano teacher, art enthusiast, coach, business leader, mentor, regular education teacher, church leader or a specialized instructor in farming, automotive, welding, computer science, carpentry, marketing, business, health sciences, community service who taught us more than what was specifically in the curriculum.
When we encourage our children and students to get involved, we are actually improving their chance at success. It has been scientifically proven that students who are involved in extracurricular activities have better attendance, grades, reduced drug and criminal behavior, positive classroom behavior, healthier eating habits, and feel connected to their school environment.
How can you help the children in your life learn new and useful skills meet new friends while learning a sense of responsibility. Think about the interest of the child. What does s/he like? What is s/he good at? You don’t want to force a child to participate in an activity s/he does not like. Sports are not for everyone, and luckily we live in a community that supports many other areas of interest. Finding a child’s niche helps them be on board for participating while giving everyone a sense of pride when they do well.
Once you have an area of interest, you can find out what is offered. Check with local organizations to see what they have going on. If they are interested in cooking, sewing, farming, gardening, growing livestock, the University of Kentucky Extension office 4-H has many opportunities. If nature is your child’s thing, we have John James Audubon Park that is always doing activities to engage the community. For music, arts, and theater we have many local groups that provide art classes and opportunities to be part of plays and events. We also have many sports opportunities in Henderson. You can contact any of the youth organizations of any sport to get involved and be a part of recreational leagues. If reading is the love of the child, the public library has many activities throughout the year to get them involved. I truly believe if a child has an interest, Henderson County has a place for the to grow in that interest.
Listen closely at what is going on at your child’s school as there are many activities offered throughout the school year and summer. Many of our elementary schools are Leader in Me schools, which provides leadership learning opportunities. We have academic teams, archery, student technology leadership, and many other specialized groups at the elementary levels. Starting at the middle school opportunities are more abundant. Henderson County Schools middle schools have leo clubs, Co-ed Y clubs, choir, band, sports, robotic club, yearbook, and student technology leadership and much more.
When students enter Henderson County High School (HCHS), there is a place for every interest. This is the list of groups/clubs/organizations: equality club, academic team, band, choir, class officers, Co-ed Y, Colonel cast, colonel journal, colonel corners bank, yearbook, criminal law, DECA, energy and conservation club, family career community leaders of america, future business leaders of america, german club, fine arts club, fellowship of christian athletes, Future Farmers of America, HOSA future health professionals, international club, JROTC, LAUNCH, leo club, marketplace, national honor society, national technical honor society, youth council, peers project mentors, robotics club, science olympiad, community involvement, skillsUSA, Spanish club, Spanish national honor society, student ambassadors, student government, green dot, archery, sports, intramurals, and many other groups each year. With all the groups listed above we also have our AP classes, early college, and technology classes that encourage extra activities and work.
I encourage our families, children, students, and community members to all get involved. Look what is out there and how we can contribute in this wonderful small town of Henderson County. Let us conclude with a Maya Angelou quote, “When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better. “
Henderson County High School-Youth Services Center Coordinator