All brawn and no brains? Not at ETHS. Students who participate in ETHS athletics are doing very well in the classroom while building team and individual skills and earning kudos on the field. A survey of this year’s winter sports teams (boys basketball, wrestling, and swimming, and girls basketball and gymnastics) shows that each team earned over a 3.0 grade-point-average during its season.

Girls topped the boys in average GPAs, but the boys certainly held their own. In particular, the girls gymnastics team, which is in a rebuilding mode, had the highest GPA (3.69), followed closely by the girls basketball team (3.67 GPA), which made it through regional competition only to lose in the sectional semifinals, two All-Conference and All-Tournament winners.

Both the boys varsity basketball and boys swimming teams earned 3.4 GPAs this winter. In a long, grueling season, the hoopsters placed third in state competition and finished with a 30-4 record. The Wildkit swimmers finished third in both conference and sectionals, and one swimmer placed eighth at state.
    The varsity wrestling team earned a 3.09 GPA while posting a 28-5 season record, and claimed five All-Conference winners, one state qualifier, and one state alternate.
   Research consistently shows that students who participate in extracurricular activities academically outperform their non-participating classmates, have better class attendance and are more likely to aspire to attending college. Students who join an extracurricular team or group generally feel more attached to their school and are less likely to fail or drop out of school. They can learn discipline, leadership, teamwork, respect for rules, and healthy living habits.

ETHS, however, does not take all this for granted. While the Illinois High School Association requires students to have passed four subjects the previous semester to participate in extracurricular activities, ETHS has set a higher bar, one of the highest in the state. ETHS requires students to maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA from the previous semester to be eligible. Students who do not meet both the IHSA and ETHS requirements may not participate in their chosen activity until the next semester.

To help students stay on track, the school does a weekly check of in-season participants’ grades to be sure they are passing four required classes and maintaining the 2.0 minimum. If they are not, they may not participate in contests, meets or performances for the next week. Students whose weekly grade-check reflects two C-minuses or lower in any class must attend academic support sessions to remain eligible.

ETHS also has a “Second Chance” provision for students whose GPA drops to between 1.7 and 1.999. This one-time-only opportunity allows these students to participate in their activity if they draw up a contract with the extracurricular academic adviser that spells out how they will improve their grades. The student, parent, coach or adviser, academic adviser, and the athletic director, fine arts chair, or other appropriate administrator must sign the contract. Approximately 25 students each semester participate in the Second-Chance Program. Now in its fourth year, this support program has an 86-percent success rate for helping students to get their academic life back on track.