- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Sports and activities give students valuable connections, skills, experiences
After school on a Tuesday afternoon in early September, members of the Liberty Middle School Art Club were crafting clay stars and leaves that will eventually be part of a school-wide mosaic. Down the hall, other students were reading lines for the fall play, and on the field outside the art room window, members of the Liberty track team were running, jumping, and more, in preparation for their first track meet.
This is a scene that plays out daily at every school across the Cherry Creek School District’s 108 square miles: hundreds of students engaged in dozens of school-sponsored clubs and sports.
“Athletics and activities allow students to make connections with coaches, club sponsors, and other students while they develop new skills and discover new things about themselves and others,” said Larry Bull, Director of Athletics and Activities for Cherry Creek Schools. He added that 75-80% of CCSD middle school students and 60-75% of high school students participate in one or more sports or activities.
“We want our students to get involved, as research shows students who are involved have better attendance, earn higher grades and have fewer discipline referrals than students who aren’t involved. Plus, being involved is a lot of fun,” Bull said.
In fact, having fun is the top reason students participate in sports and clubs. But there are many others.
“First reason: it’s a social activity. Second reason: you just get to do a lot. You get to learn new things,” said seventh-grader Lily Shariat, who participates in art club and several other activities at Liberty.
“I joined art club because it’s a great place to show off my creativity,” said sixth grader Mason Ramsey.
“It shows your creativity to other people and helps them learn who you are,” added fellow sixth grader Kenzie Hall, who’s been involved in art club since she was in fourth grade. She said being in art club has other benefits as well. “Meeting new people that you’ve never met before, from sixth, seventh, and eighth grade.”
Long known for academic excellence, the Cherry Creek School District has also gained a national reputation for excellence in athletics and activities. The district has award-winning programs in sports, activities, and the arts.
At the elementary level, those range from intramural sports, choir, chess club, and robotics, to Battle of the Books, Destination Imagination, and more. Middle school students can participate in four sports – basketball, volleyball, track and field, and wrestling – and a rich variety of activities, including student council, National Junior Honor Society, and yearbook club, just to name a few.
At the high school level, CCSD offers 25 sports that are sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Students can also participate in a rich variety of activities. Some, like DECA, FBLA, and speech and debate, have been around for decades, while others, such as anime, gaming, and coding clubs, and the Technology Student Association, are more recent additions. High schools also have clubs based on affinity or shared interests, such as specific foreign language clubs, the Sisterhood and Brotherhood, and the Muslim Student Alliance.
“At any school, it’s important to have clubs that look and sound like the kids going there,” said Adria Herscher, the activities director at Overland High School. Overland’s 50 clubs include a Step Team, which draws from the music and dance of the African culture.
“Step Team is a cultural movement,” said Step Team sponsor Treuanna Jones. “It involves dance, stomping your feet, and clapping your hands. It’s very big in HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and it’s something we use to bring out the spirit of the team and our cultural background.”
The Step Team, which has more than doubled in size in the past two years, has become a popular part of school assemblies and sporting events.
“It’s the hype we need at the games,” said Mckyla Todd, an OHS sophomore and one of the team’s three captains.
“I really love this a lot. I love the aspect of the team and doing things together,” added junior and captain R’Nyah Dickens.
While the group is based in African culture, it is open to any student, girl or boy, of any race or ethnicity.
“I want everybody to know this is something that doesn’t require a lot of skill. It doesn’t take much to be part of our Step Team family,” said captain De’Ari Mack, a sophomore. She truly considers her teammates to be more than friends. “This is like another family you have outside of school and home. These are people you can go and talk to and build bonds with.”
The athletics and activities offered by Cherry Creek Schools exemplify all five of the district’s Core Values: Growth Mindset, Equity, Whole Wellbeing, Engagement, and Relationships.
“Activities like art club are sometimes the reason that a kiddo comes to school and stays at school,” said Liberty Art Club sponsor and teacher Laura Coupas. “When they know they have that awesome thing to look forward to at the end of the day, whether it’s track or a club where they can get together with their friends and share a common interest, it keeps them here and it keeps them engaged.”
Athletics and activities also provide opportunities that help some students discover their passion and pathway of purpose. That’s what choir did for Herscher, the activities director at Overland High School.
“It set me on a trajectory of sitting in this chair now, because I sang in choir, then I wanted to teach choir, so I did. Then my choir classroom experience really led me to being an activities director,” Herscher said.
“It’s nice to have opportunities to connect with other students who think like you, but it’s also nice to have opportunities to try things that you normally wouldn’t try, to help develop what you want to do with your life,” she said.
Get more information about:
- District Athletics and Activities: https://www.cherrycreekschools.org/Page/1730
- CCSD Performing Arts: https://www.cherrycreekschools.org/Page/13762
- Contact your school directly for specific information about the sports, clubs, and activities it offers.