High School Activities and Sports: 10 Dynamite Tips to Build College Application Resumes

As you start high school, plan activities and sports that will make you look your best to the college you eventually want to attend. If you have many talents and interests, be sure to keep your grades up, and achieve at high levels in your activities.

Starting in the 9th grade and working through the 12th grade, some of the special classes and activities that show you have special talents and abilities include:

Writing

Join the staff of the yearbook or the school newspaper staff. Enter writing and essay contests. Compose speeches for contests and debate tournaments.

Art, photography and Drama

Enroll in special design, drawing, painting, ceramic, and pottery classes. Act in school plays, musicals, and in community theaters. Work on the photo staff of the yearbook or the school newspaper. Publish in city or local newspapers. Win awards at local art shows and county fairs.

Music

Participate in school orchestras, bands, choirs, madrigal groups, musicals, junior symphonies, summer music camps, music award competitions, and church choirs.

Science

Join the radio, science, math and engineering clubs. Participate in regional and national math tournaments and science competitions and fairs. You can win prizes and awards. Subscribe to science magazines or read them at the library.

Sports

Be an active team player in the events you like best. Follow a regular training program to develop above average skills.

Agriculture

Join Future Farmers of America, FFA, or 4-H Clubs. Enter state and county fairs to gain awards, prizes, and recognition.

Home Economics

Work hard and compete for awards and prizes at county, state and national fairs. Offer to help a local business in your area of interest.

Technical Arts

Volunteer for experience at auto and body shops, metal shops, manufacturers, and engineering or architectural firms. Schools offer job training through Regional Occupational Programs, ROP, work experience, often for credit, or apprentice training programs.

Business

Participate in Future Business Leaders of America, FBLA, Distributive Education Clubs of America, DECA, Junior Achievement, and Regional Occupational Programs. Try working in the Work Experience program or as a summer intern to see if you will really like a particular career.

Leadership

Become an Eagle Scout, or join clubs such as Junior Statesman or Key Club. Apply to be a legislative page. Work for your senator, congressman, assemblyman, city councilman, or for local civic and charitable organizations.

Keep track of your high school courses and activities A scrap book for newspaper clippings and awards will give you a wonderful diary for your future life, and will help you fill out your resume your senior year.

An Opportunity to Promote Real Quality in Schools

This is a critical time for everyone interested in quality in schools. For some years now, the Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been heavily focused on “egg candling” schools by comparing school-wide absolute scores on tests. Experienced educators predicted that this would fail because, as W. Edwards Deming showed in his practical and applied research, real quality is represented by continuous improvement in learning by individual students rather than by school-wide test scores. As we have marched toward more and more schools being labeled as “failing” based on absolute test scores not meeting annual yearly progress (AYP) targets, some legislative leaders have finally proposed changing the focus to continuous improvement by individual students rather than using AYP targets. Depending upon the details that evolve from a proposal now released by the Senate Committee on Education, this could lead to a very constructive improvement in learning in most schools. This article encourages everyone, educators and parents and business leaders who understand the great work of Deming, to get involved in shaping the details of the change.

First, everyone needs to understand the fundamental flaw in the current ESEA law. It focuses on numbers or scores that are not even comparable rather than on individual learning progress. Students in a specific grade (3, 8, or 10) are pushed or “used” to achieve test scores that will exceed an arbitrary score range on a grade level test. Many individual students are discouraged by a category label applied to them at this point, especially if they have been learning and progressing. Then, different students often with different learning backgrounds, learning rates and styles, and learning problems who enter the grade in the following year are expected to achieve an even higher score range on the test. Higher scores are then often interpreted by the media or the public as “improvement” even though the tests were applied to completely different students apparently on the assumption that one group of students is just like another (like identical widgets passing by on an assembly line). While school scores can certainly profit from individual student growth, the year to year school-wide grade comparisons are completely invalid as a measure of the true purpose of a school – – continuous improvement in the learning of each individual student. The right comparisons are not being made by the public even though scores can and in many cases are being used properly by schools.

As the AYP labeling is abolished, schools can be encouraged instead to concentrate even more on individual growth like this:

  1. What percentage and which common core curriculum standards does Johnny X achieve in grade 3? Based on that data, how do we now help Johnny to improve his learning?
  2. What percentage and which correlated common core standards does Johnny X (not some different student) achieve in grade 8 (or an in between grade based on local tests)? How successful were we in helping Johnny X improve? What will our new plan be for him between now and the next assessment?

In this way, we would be measuring “value added” and giving parents the best information without distraction of a misleading focus on school AYP. What counts is how much we are helping an individual student grow against common standards. If the Federal law emphasizes this and initially points out the fallacy of the different student AYP approach, misleading comparisons will be reduced. Some of the most responsible and sophisticated media folks would even work with individual schools to show the quality of the value added continuous improvement programs. For example, I worked with an optional high school that accepted between 30% and 50% of students with previous learning problems based primarily on low reading skills; some local school districts sending enrollees to us retained only 15% to 17% with learning problems for their own ninth grade programs. In our school, a continuous improvement focus and individualized instruction helped those with low reading skills grow the equivalent of 3 to 4 grade levels per year on standardized tests; most of students were then ready for a 10th grade state test. If someone in a sending school district area with slightly higher 10th grade test scores inadvertently misinformed interested and successful local students about not electing the option of my school on the basis of those scores, local newspaper reporters were quite willing to publish the truth underlying the misleading comparison. The truth gave a very talented faculty full credit for their teaching success and allowed us to enroll a full spectrum of learners to provide a quality environment to everyone.

If the details of a new ESEA law abolish AYP, focus on valued added to individual students under common core standards, encourage the type of continuous improvement systems proven successful by W. Edwards Deming, and ensure that states and local districts rather than a far removed local government control evaluation standards, real quality can blossom in more schools. ACT NOW to ask your U.S. Senators and Representative to support these changes with strong bipartisan support in the coming months and to resist other directions that special interest groups will propose.

Choosing Your Child’s School

Do you send your child to public school, private school, Parochial school, or do you home school them? That choice of schooling approach is a dilemma that all parents face today.

Today’s child starts his/her education early. It is not unreasonable to send a child to school at age 2. At this young age, the child can already learn and you have a blank slate on which to write. Private schools begin teaching children at age 2 to say their ABC’s and recognize their numbers. Children can learn songs and dances. They can learn to get along with other children their own age. They can learn manners and begin to learn religion.

By age four, the child should be able to write his/her name and to recognize it when he/she sees it. By the time he/she enters kindergarten at age 5, children who have been in private school already know what most children in public school do not learn until they are in the first grade. Many of these children can already read and do simple math. They have taught themselves.

Public school does not allow the teaching of any religious subjects. The Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem are no longer learned or recited/sung daily. This is something that all school children learned in the 50’s,60’s 70’s and part of the 80’s. At the end of the 80’s thing began to change subtly in our public schools. References to certain historic events were removed from the text books. School prayer was banned. The world started to see things in a new light: Political Correctness.

Today, Political Correctness has run totally amok. Our children do not learn about the Civil War, the conflicts that involved Arab nations, WWII and Hitler’s murder of the Jews. Civics isn’t part of the curriculum any longer. Today’s student does not study the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Most students cannot tell you what is engraved on the Statue of Liberty and do not know it was a gift from the French. I would challenge you to discover twenty students who know how many are in Congress and the Senate. Few know how a Bill is introduced or made. Maybe we should bring back the television show The Electric Company. Children learned a lot from that show.

If there is a concern to you, there are options. One increasing popular option is home schooling. However, if you decide to home school your child, you had better be serious about it. You have to set regular hours for each lesson and stick to them.

There are curriculums available over the internet through some of the states. The state supplies the teacher and all work is all done at home on the computer. The child does not have to attend classes but does have to do the same amount of work that is required of those who do. In some states the child goes to a central testing place for the year end tests.

There are over 60,000 students being home schooled. Studies show that home schooled students score above those who attend public school. Being home schooled allows the student to partake in outside learning through apprenticeships. The subjects taught are not limited to the normal ones taught in public school. The home schooled student may learn subjects such as Greek, Latin, astronomy, architecture, philosophy.

Home schooled students also have the opportunity to travel with their families. This presents another field of learning. Parochial schools conduct their lessons and education in conjunction with religious instruction. Students are treated strictly and expected to abide by the rules of the Church.

Private schools are of many different types. Christian schools conduct their education in conjunction with the teaching of Christian values and the Bible. These schools teach from age 2 until high school grade 12. There are also Christian colleges.

Montessori schools approach education based on the experiences of Maria Montessori who believed in giving the student a chance to self pace themselves. She believed that they had a sort of inner guide to follow. This school usually teaches children from 2-10.

There are Hebrew schools, Muslim schools, and schools for other religions. There are alternative schools for troubled youth. Parents have many choices to investigate prior to enrolling their child. They need to investigate each one in order to choose the best one for their child and their family.