The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board should vote to reduce the grade-point average required to participate in school sports from 2.0 to 1.5. By doing so, it presents an opportunity to reach students who are otherwise falling further behind and failing to discover hidden talents.

Extracurricular activities are simply anything you do that is not a high school course or paid employment. Most community and family activities are also “extracurricular.” For the purpose of individual college applications, extracurricular activities are grouped together with community service, volunteer work, family activities and hobbies. However, no one is requiring a standard GPA for all extracurricular activities.

Most extracurricular activities have a connection to higher education opportunities, a possibility most low-performance students don’t imagine possible for them. Students who excel in sports, master playing an instrument, etc., may be entitled to college scholarships and grants. This incentive makes students more aware of their performance in and out of the classroom, motivating them to pay greater attention to their studies.

How important GPA is to the students and their parents largely depends upon the type of profession or further education they want to pursue. Some employers are interested in GPAs, and others merely require a college degree for certain positions. Most colleges, on the other hand, and graduate schools have minimum GPA requirements, and most Ivy League schools don’t consider students who don’t have the highest GPAs.

GPA is important, but it is not everything when it comes to the success of every student. Various studies have shown that students who participate in extracurricular activities excel in academic performance more often than children who do not. The National Center for Education Statistics states, “Extracurricular activities provide a channel for reinforcing the lessons learned in the classroom, offering students the opportunity to apply academic skills in a real-world context, and are thus considered part of a well-rounded education.”

According to the study, students who participate in extracurricular activities have a 15 percent higher classroom attendance rate than students who are not involved. Therefore, students who do not miss classes are more likely to have a higher grade-point average.

Low-performing students usually have a negative attitude toward school and no sense of belonging. The social component of extracurricular activities instills a sense of community, responsibility and involvement. Students who participate in extracurricular activities are more likely to feel confident and are more likely to request help on assignments they do not understand. Students learn to respect themselves and others, and this leads to higher self-esteem. High self-esteem improves social, personal and academic performance.

Consider what these students are doing now and ask the question, “What does anyone have to lose?”

Chauna Banks

Metro councilwoman, District 2

Baton Rouge