Merced County Times Newspaper
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Keep local teens on winning track

FEATURE OP/ED

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Alan Peterson
Alan Peterson

Merced Union High School District (MUHSD) has a high graduation rate (91.4 percent), exceeds the state average on the California state dashboard’s college and career indicator (56.1 percent), and has a sizeable number of students who go to college upon completion of high school.

However, it’s important that we continue to strive for improvement.

MUHSD believes a key ingredient to any student’s high school success is involvement in extracurricular activities. Studies show a direct correlation between student involvement and an increase in performance in school, attendance, and post-secondary aspirations. It all comes down to engaging the students.

And how do we do that?

Having a winning tradition is one way. Our athletic teams consistently perform well within their leagues, with many making deep runs into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. We offer award winning FFA programs across the district, and you do not need to be the son or daughter of a farmer to participate! Our band and drama programs are well-known for their accolades while offering emerging young artists an avenue to develop their skill set.

Extracurriculars also provide students a sense of belonging. Their peers will become their best friends, their teams will become their support system, and their sport/activity/craft will become their sense of identity. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to develop social-emotional skills than to spend four years embedded in one of our programs.

These activities offer many rewards and benefits that will follow students well into their adult life including work ethic, being timely, physical fitness and working as a team and with others who come from diverse backgrounds. Extracurricular activities can also provide at-risk students with an avenue to discover their self-worth, thereby increasing their school engagement and the probability of school success.

As a former high school athlete myself, I would be remiss if I didn’t urge parents to encourage their students to try out for a sport. Even if they haven’t participated in organized sports before, it is not too late and our coaches are rock stars when it comes to working with beginners. But if sports isn’t their thing, all of our comprehensive sites offer 25+ clubs for students with all manner of interests, including those looking to serve their communities!

If your student is beginning their high school experience this year, and/or have struggled in their past school experience, we highly encourage parents to look into what programs are offered at their school site and to see to it that their students get involved.

For assistance with this, please contact the district’s Director of Communications Sam Yniguez at 209-325-2046. He will be happy to put you in touch with your site’s Athletic and Activities Directors.

Wishing everyone a great school year!

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