Middle school student athletes in Henrico may have to raise their GPA in order to play organized sports.
A similar proposal is already in place for high school student athletes beginning the 2014-2015 school year. The plan to enforce a GPA requirement for even younger students is not a done deal yet, because the school board still needs to approve it.
The superintendent is asking that, middle school student athletes also must maintain a 2.0 GPA, which is a C average, beginning next school year.
"I don't think it's impossible," said Brooke Winston, an eighth grader at Liberty Middle School in Hanover who participates in track, softball and gymnastics. "If you're really motivated to play sports that you want to do, I think that's a goal that you would really try and set for yourself."
The GPA requirement plan for the younger students is still in its beginning stages, but has just been released to the school board.
At sixth grade, students will be notified about the grade requirement. By seventh grade, a student with less than a 2.0 GPA can try out and practice, but cannot play until they raise their grades. By eighth grade, they must have 2.0 GPA to play and compete.
"I think there's positives and negatives for this situation," said Diane Maiese, a parent and teacher in eastern Henrico. Maiese also coaches gymnastics and knows how balancing sports and school is not always easy. In some households, she said, the child may not get the support they need, but to start the requirement at a younger age may help them develop good study habits. "To start at a young age, why not? But at the same time, it has to be looked at that these students have a lot of issues they have on their plate that they didn't have in elementary school."
If this plan is approved, the pilot program would start next school year. The plan also talks about mandatory tutoring and regular grade checks.
The Henrico School Board is scheduled to discuss the GPA requirement on Thursday.
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