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02-25-14: Community forums in March address 9-12 athletic program
02-25-14: Community forums in March address 9-12 athletic program
Posted on 02/25/2014

The community is invited this March to hear about plans under way to create a smooth transition this August when ninth graders have an opportunity for the first time to compete in all high school sports.


Public forums will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on March 3 at Rogers High School, March 4 at Puyallup High School, and March 5 at Emerald Ridge High School. The district sponsored three similar community forums on the topic in October.


The meetings are being held to educate the community about a Puyallup School Board decision last spring to include ninth-grade athletics as part of the high school interscholastic sports program beginning in fall 2014.


Since then a task force made up of several district officials, as well as all junior high and high school athletic coordinators, has been meeting to determine how to best implement the new 9-12 athletic program.


The task force will present its proposed implementation plan to the school board on April 7. The plan will address topics such as transportation, uniforms, waiver policies, facility use, and junior high building impacts including culture, dismissals, academics, and activities.


Plans are for eighth-grade athletic programs to become the new junior high varsity teams, while seventh-grade athletics will become the new junior varsity program, said Rick Wells, the school district’s director of athletics, health, and fitness.


Wells heads up the task force along with Chief Equity and Achievement Officer Gerald Denman.


“We have been taking a close look at the junior high culture and climate,” Wells said. “If ninth graders are no longer participating in sports at the junior high, what is their connection to the school? Athletic directors have been busy looking at ways to keep those kids connected.”


Those who attend the forums this spring will have an opportunity to comment and will receive a list of frequently asked questions about the new 9-12 athletic configuration. The list of questions and answers is also posted on the district website along with task force meeting agendas and minutes.


For years the Puyallup School District has allowed ninth-grade participation on high school athletic teams in some, but not all, sports.


Students have had an opportunity to participate at the high school level in baseball, softball, tennis, bowling, gymnastics, girls wrestling, water polo, swimming/ diving, boys cross country, boys soccer, and golf.


The change will allow ninth graders to also compete at the high school level in football, volleyball, basketball, girls cross country, girls soccer, track, and boys wrestling, Wells said.


Puyallup is the only school district along the Interstate 5 corridor from Oregon to Canada that does not have a 9-12 athletic configuration this school year, he said.