September 25, 2017
Dear LoMA Family,
LoMA’s Mission Statement opens by saying, “LoMA cares about the academic, social and artistic development of its community of learners.” Extracurricular Activities are a huge part of this mission. Our teams, performing groups, volunteer clubs and community-based partners are all focused on helping our students build healthy relationships, working meaningfully on things they value and having fun together.
In order to find out whether all of this really helps our students, I studied them for my dissertation. To earn my Doctorate in Philosophy, I wrote a 300 page book that researched how social capital affects high school graduation rates. Social capital refers to the valuable relationships that people have that help them get what they want. For students this may include tutoring from a caring teacher to help pass a test, counseling services from a social worker to help with anger management, or college advising that could lead to scholarships. My thesis, which seems pretty obvious, was that schools where students report having rich, caring relationships with their peers and school staff have higher graduation rates. Of course, this proved to be true. The more interesting finding showed that the single biggest contributor to positive social capital was the level of student participation in extracurricular activities. My statistical analysis of every high school in the city showed that the more students participated in extracurricular activities, the more likely they were to feel connected to their peers and staff, create safer school, graduate and go to college.
As a part of the study, I interviewed about two dozen LoMA graduates about social capital and their experiences at LoMA. Nearly all of them told inspiring stories about how staff and friends had guided, supported, and inspired them. What was most interesting was how they reported that they formed their most meaningful school-based relationships through extracurricular activities, and that the more intense the activity, the more intense the relationship. For instance, LoMATE, mentoring and internship showed up again and again as huge sources of social capital as these activities required so much time, effort and team problem solving. Only three students felt that they were graduating without having formed significant relationships. These were also the three who had done the least in participating in extracurricular activities. They regretted that they had not put more effort into extracurriculars as they felt ostracized from the LoMA family.
This Wednesday, our 7th and 8th period classes will host our annual carousel of extracurricular activities so that advisors and community partners can visit classes to explain their programs. Students will remain in their 7th period classes through DEAR. Students will turn in their selection forms the next day to their advisors and begin attending on the following week. They do not need wait for approval. We require every student to participate in at least two afternoons of activities every week. We believe that doing so will make it more likely that our students will make friends, graduate, attend college and enjoy school, and now you have the evidence to prove it.
Here are some current LoMA students’ experiences with Extracurriculars to help prepare you for Thursday’s carousel.
Finally being a senior, I understand managing time is extremely important. I learned this skill through my previous years in extracurriculars, especially in LoMA Cares and Stage Tech. They both helped me learn to organize my time in order to still do well in school. While it was definitely stressful, I learned leadership skills, time management skills, and even made some new friends.
For the past four years I’ve been in Student Council. It has been a great opportunity to meet people from other grades and make a change in the school. We work together with the amazing Ms. L to create dances, pot lucks, and fundraisers. Not to mention, it looks AMAZING for colleges!
is the extracurricular where we do the play and musical. At first you get really nervous since you don’t want to mess up and fail. But after you join, you start to feel welcome. In , we make a lot of friends and the relationships always last long. is always my safe space to be myself. Performing is really not that bad. We perform the play in the Black Box, and for the musical, we get to perform in the auditorium. We never get too nervous because we always support each other.
Being a varsity athlete with PSAL is really about dedication because in a sport like wrestling, you really have to be sharp minded and commit yourself to knowing the moves and strategies. Mostly though, it’s about not giving up, because if you give up on yourself during a match, it’s basically an automatic loss, and you’re letting your whole team down. My personality has changed because of it, I have a new approach to life. I have more critical thinking, I’m more strategic, and it’s made me a smarter and better (not to mention stronger) person.
Playing PSAL sports is long hours, tiring, and stressful, but it gives you good time management, and gives you something to look forward to—being a part of a team. It’s nice to have supportive people, even though personalities clash a lot. When that happens, we have to try to work it out or at least make sure to leave it off the court and out of the match. Even though I don’t always want to go, I love being a varsity athlete, because it’s varsity!
Playing a varsity sport is great, but man you make sure you keep your grades up. If that’s not something you can do, you’re better off in intramurals so you don’t let your team down. Intramurals are great because everyone is super supportive, and there is less pressure and more fun (even though we obviously try to win).
Getting credit for outside extracurriculars is great because I don’t have to see all the same people I see during the week. Sometimes I need a break from school and school people. It opened doors for me, like scholarships for later on and work experience. It also gives me a chance to talk about real life things that I can’t talk about in school and have an opinion on things in the world. I have some real long conversations with these people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and networking experience.