New language means stricter standards for high school athletes

May 21, 2015

A Wareham High School varsity athlete can now be kicked off a varsity athletic team, if he or she only fails physical education.

The School Committee voted Wednesday night to approve a proposal to amend the language in the high school’s addendum, brought before the committee by High School Principal Scott Palladino.

Under the new language, a student on a varsity athletic team must pass at least seven major subjects of seven or eight per school quarter, in order to continue to be eligible for the varsity team. An athlete who passes only six major courses in two quarters may use a one-time appeal to the principal to continue to play on a team. The high school addendum describes a major subject as one that is worth at least 2.5 credits per semester, or five credits per year.

Palladino said he brought the item before the School Committee because the committee itself felt the standards were not as strict as they should be, and pushed to increase the standards.

“I think it sets us apart,” Palladino said. “We have the strictest requirements of anyone in the conference for athletics.”

Palladino later said a group of coaches, parents, and students met with him to help create this new guideline. He said the group agreed to the new language, under the condition that the students be given one appeal, in case they have personal rough patches during a given quarter. However, once that appeal is used, it may not be used again.

This does not mean the student would no longer be eligible for a varsity team for the rest of school, Palladino said. He or she would just need to pass all seven major courses the following quarter.

“Kids are … resilient, and when you say, ‘This is what you need to do, most of them will meet that,” Palladino said. “It’s a one-year policy, so we’ll see how it goes. If it has a drastic impact on the athletic program, we will be back at the School Committee.”

Committee chairman Geoffrey Swett said his only concern was for the health of athletes, and their sleep schedules, but committee member Cliff Sylvia’s concern was for the school district.

“It might give folks another reason for leaving Wareham,” Sylvia said. “I really believe that.”

During the meeting, the committee also approved the District handbook for the 2015 - 2016 school year.