Thursday, May 24, 2018
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School activities, ways to participate shared

Programs, volunteerism highlighted

Seth Ryker describes school activities as the “other half of education.”

Through participation in activities outside of the classroom, the athletic director for Gothenburg Public Schools said students develop social skills, courage, self confidence, leadership, work ethic and integrity.

“And these are life-long goals,” he said.

Ryker and Dudley Elementary principals Teresa Messersmith and Jim Widdifield talked about the “Philosophy of the Activities Program” and “Opportunities to be an Active Part of Our School” at a Stakeholders meeting April 4 at Gothenburg Public Library.

Stakeholders are community members who are invited to hear about various educational topics and share what they learn with at least three other people.

Ryker noted that people who are involved in competitive activities tend to be successful later in life.

Unlike the controlled classroom atmosphere, activities are in an uncontrolled environment.

“The athletic arena creates challenges and opportunities in front of peers and patrons,” Ryker said. “You can’t control officials or opponents but the public stage offers opportunities.”

Students, who perform with the public watching, will prepare differently. Ryker said courage is instilled by participating in a performance.

“Extemporaneous speaking takes courage,” he said.

Whether one wins or fails, Ryker said something is learned.

And, he noted, the goal of learning these lessons shouldn’t be impacted by wins or losses. Ryker pointed to the GHS speech team that won every sweepstakes event, Southwest Conference and district meets and placed third at state.

“There was a sense of disappointment because they set the bar so high but now, with a few days to reflect, they can gain appreciation for the goals they accomplished,” Ryker said.

He said he likes how the school district focuses on participation.

“To impact students and accomplish our goals, we must maintain high levels of participation,” he said, noting that smaller schools, like Gothenburg, offer participation in various activities.

Although larger schools can offer more, they are often limited in how many students can participate.

Because of volunteers who help with activities such as hosting district track, Ryker said Gothenburg is a great place to be athletic director.

“I don’t have to beg very often,” he said with a laugh.

Messersmith and Widdifield listed many ways parents and others volunteer—as TeamMates, reading buddies, helping with holiday dinners in classrooms, at Outdoor Education, book fairs, with health screenings, field trips and more.

Professionals visit classrooms to share about dentistry, bees, money and other things.

Widdifield pointed to a state volunteer award the district received for the 2009-10 school year. Besides Gothenburg, Blair was the only other school to receive the award.

Parents also help with high school activities such as musicals, businesses with programs such as Renaissance (where academic achievements are recognized), Bloodmobile and more.

Students also volunteer through such as activities as YCIP, maintaining the FFA community garden and more.

Superintendent Mike Teahon said the district values what the community gives.

For more information on volunteering, contact the school at 537-3651.

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