Every afternoon students at the Academy faithfully make their way across campus in pursuit of “integrity, leadership, and wellness.” According to our website, The Governor’s Academy believes “that learning extends beyond the classroom; that character, including the ability to win and lose gracefully, is formed by learning to be selfless; and that there can be joy, pride, and value in co-curricular experiences.”
During my time at Govs, I’ve often questioned the afternoon program experience. Why don’t we have more activities? Why must we participate in every season? With it being such an integral part of our experience I often question the importance of the programs. Last year the school held a year-long review of afternoon programs to assess the satisfaction of students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, the program sought to see how TGA compares to its peers in terms of coaching, facilities, and program offerings. Conducted by a third party company in order to objectively evaluate the programs, the review was comprised of focus groups of students, faculty, and staff that participated in a variety of activities.
To learn more about the Afternoon Program Review I interviewed Mrs. Claudia Barcomb, Director of Afternoon Programs and Athletics, who commented on the feedback received from the review. The overall result of the survey was that people are generally happy with the way the programs are structured. One tangible change that came out of this review was the replacement of JV and thirds uniforms. The review also provided feedback that will be used to create a full analysis of the alumni gym and locker rooms, along with other areas of the afternoon program that need review.
Of the feedback collected, Mrs. Barcomb remarked that many students feel arts and sports are “two separate entities,” and were disappointed in the lack of support shown between the groups at games and performances. She stated that one of the ways to fix this was making sure that we are better at showing up for each other’s events. To gain a second opinion on the matter, I also interviewed Mr. Huntington, director of the winter musical and coach of thirds boys lacrosse. When asked about the athletics/arts divide he said, “I do sometimes perceive an over-emphasis on athletics compared to everything else that we do…but I don’t see it as an athletics/arts divide.” Instead, he stated flexibility from both arts and sports coaches was key, such as having the option for a musical in a different season, to give those who play a winter sport an opportunity to perform.
There are other ways to destroy the “divide” that we can do right now. As Mr. Huntington put it, the community needs to be more aware of the importance of a show: “Everybody understands the stakes competing with another school… [but] most arts programs get one shot at their performance and it’s at the end of a season when everybody’s tired, everybody doing varsity athletics is thinking about postseason play…and the art folks then need to combat that.” In simple terms, it comes down to teaching people the value of a performance. An idea he gave was, “If Coach O said to his football team, ‘oh you all need to go to the fall drama performance’…I think that would go a long way to [create a culture of] participation. They are the ones who can help to change the culture.” I think it’s important that as a community we realize where we can improve, and how we can best support our peers. We all work really hard in the afternoons, so it’s in all of our best interests to support one another.