By Darren Lum
After close to two years living with pandemic restrictions, life at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School is returning to a place where athletic teams, social and service clubs and inter-school sports with an emphasis on development are being offered.
This is important for the well-being of the school and has a relationship to academic success said principal, Chris Boulay.
“Students and staff have yearned to be connected to sports/clubs/activities for a long time now. Students who engage in extracurricular activities, regardless of type, are academically successful. Students who experience success feel well. And students who feel well, do well. It is a feedback loop,” Boulay wrote in an email.
In Ontario and the rest of the country, life is likely to never be like it was pre-pandemic, but the school’s ability to offer anything outside of academics is being welcomed by students and faculty.
There is hope for athletic seasons and opportunity to compete for championships.
This past summer there were practices held for the field hockey varsity team, which is an annual powerhouse in Kawartha. There is a running group open to students interested in cross-country competition and recreational running, who meet after school.
Also, some teams such as the boys volleyball team will be functioning as a developmental opportunity where students from Grade nine to 12 can engage socially, learn skills and develop their understanding of the game three days a week. The fitness centre up in the Red Hawks’ Nest is open to students where they can workout, which includes informal and formal opportunities for training with a member of faculty. There hasn’t been much of anything positive related to the pandemic, but the cost savings associated with not having to pay sports officials went into purchasing eight new stationary bikes and a rowing machine.
It’s not all good news.
For the first time in decades, the football program is not being offered, which is being associated to retiring teachers that were instrumental to the running of the program and a lack of players.
Clubs, such as the student version of Rotary, the Interact club, continue and so do the efforts of the leadership students, who recently were part of the Royal Canadian Legion of Haliburton’s Veterans Decoration Day on Sept. 20.
There is already an improvement to the school atmosphere with these offerings, which is expected include the Gay Straight Alliance Club.
“The spirit is definitely palpable. In reality, it seems as though we have half of our school who are new to high school due to the pandemic. Students in Grades 9 and 10 are beginning to feel what Hal High is truly all about-staff who invest in our students and a school that wishes to provide as many opportunities to kids as possible,” he said.
This week the school will restart its offering of a late-bus for students as a measure to facilitate participation in the extracurricular clubs and groups.
“We hope this eases the transportation burden for some families who have students staying after school for sports, clubs or extra help. Another example of the school facilitating participation in extracurriculars is by offering virtual meetings as an option for students to be involved,” he said.