BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Everyone knows that extra-curricular activities and athletics are an important part of any student’s life, but a presentation at the Oct. 11 school board meeting shed some light on how important they are.

District Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics Ann Clifton, Grace Acosta and Lawrence Seid gave a report on student participation in both extra-curricular activities and athletics.

According to studies on the importance of these activities, students who take part in these have improved grades, better time management skills, develop new and useful skills and a sense of responsibility, and also make more friends.

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Clubs come and go – what is popular in one decade may no longer be popular, so how do new clubs happen get formed? There’s a process: a teacher or student proposes a club, explaining its purpose and its benefit to either Columbia Middle School (CMS) or Governor Livingston High School (GL).  The proposal is reviewed by the building administration and, if approved, first becomes an “informal club,” and, if there is a lot of interest and participation in the club, and the club shows a benefit to its school and has well-attended events or functions, it can become a “formal club.”

Currently The Highlander has attracted a lot of new members after partnering with TAPinto Berkeley Heights. Clubs that are recent additions to the school lineup of after school activities include: Chamber Choir; Model United Nations; Tri-M Music Honor Society; Photo Club; Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA); Technology Student Association (TSA). St. Baldrick’s Club was deactivated. 

At GL, the Athletic Honor Society with 127 members and Interact Club with 130 members have the most participants. Other popular clubs are the Art Club and Art Honor Society; Future Business Leaders of America; the Italian Club and Honor Society; Jazz Band; Link Crew; Marching Band/Color Guard/Pipe Band; Musical/Drama; Newspaper; Photography Club; Science League; Science National Honor Society; Sign Language/Junior NAD; Student Ambassadors; Technology  Student Association and Yearbook. Other clubs are trending downward in membership or static. All told 1,840 people participate in clubs.

More than 80 percent of students have participated in sports and extracurricular activities at GL in the last three school years.

At CMS, 487 students participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities.

AT GL, the athletic department offers: nine fall sports and 23 levels; 11 winter sports and 20 levels; and eight spring sports and 17 levels. Eight of the sports are trending upward; 11 are staying about the same and four sports are trending down.

Increasing in participation in the fall are cheerleading; boys soccer; girls tennis and volleyball. Decreasing in the fall is football, while boys and girls cross-country and field hockey are staying the same.

In the winter, participation in cheerleading and ice hockey is increasing. Boys basketball is decreasing, as is indoor track for boys and girls, but there are currently 64 boys and 72 girls participating in that sport. Girls basketball, boys and girls fencing and swimming, and wrestling are about the same as previous years.

In the spring, girls and boys lacrosse are increasing the number of participants; softball is declining and baseball, golf, boys tennis and boys and girls track are holding their own.

At CMS, the athletic department offers a total of seven sports: two fall, three winter and two spring sports.  Girls basketball and cheerleading are trending upward; boys and girls soccer, baseball and softball are about the same and boys basketball is trending down.

Studies indicate that students who participate in sports have an easier transition from eighth grade to high school.

The 46-slide presentation is not available on the district website.