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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Publisher

Opinion: School's banners a positive step in recognizing academic activities

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Banners noting the accomplishments of the music and art departments and challenging the choir and forensics team were installed in the Prairie View High School large gym earlier this month. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal

Last year, Jenna Thompson, who was at that time a senior at Prairie View High School, spoke to the Prairie View Board of Education about what she saw as a failure to give students who are involved in academic activities the same recognition as those in athletic activities.

Supported by a cluster of other students who have excelled in extracurricular activities such as instrumental and vocal music, scholars bowl and competitive speech and drama, Thompson said that the school does little to place those activities, which like athletics are governed by the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), on an even footing.

Thompson, a state medal winner in forensics and as such is accustomed to speaking in public, laid out her case in a well-rehearsed presentation.

At the time, then-Principal Joseph Hornback and Activities Director Mark Hough were somewhat taken back by Thompson’s allegations.

To be fair, the PVHS administration was trying to make things even. Hough, who is in charge of the school’s Facebook page, has been diligent about posting when the band scores a I or the forensics team brings home medals. But for Thompson and the other students, there was still something lacking.

That was rectified to a large degree last year with an installation in the high school’s large gym when banners that noted PVHS students’ achievements in academic activities were installed.

A new banner celebrating the girls state track and field championshipwas also installed.

The school has also been working in other ways to recognize and celebrate their academic activities as well as their athletic activities.

Last week on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the school’s football, volleyball and cross-country teams accompanied the band to Baldwin City to make a campus visit, meet coaches and academics, and cheer on the band as it competed in a marching competition. The band got a top I-rating, students of all ages got a campus visit, and the athletes likely had a better understanding of what other students in the school do.

Those banners will likely reinforce student activity in those academic programs for years to come. And the school's efforts in making sure that all students are aware of the accomplishments – and opportunities – is a positive step forward whether using social media or the wall of the gym.

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