No students participate in Banner Co. high school sports winter activities

December 5, 2018

HARRISBURG — Banner County High School will not have any winter sports at the high school level as students have pursued other extracurricular activities the school offers.

When the winter sports season began, school activities director Kari Gifford said two students went out for wrestling and decided not to continue and there were not enough athletes to have basketball teams.

“It has nothing to do with funding,” said Gifford. “We just don’t have students right now interested in doing winter sports.”

The high school currently has 26 students enrolled and with the shift toward arts and agriculture extracurricular activities, the high school is using their resources to provide students with those opportunities. Some of the new initiatives for students are focused on engineering and technology, from robotics to 3-D printing.

“These opportunities have been introduced to students right now during the morning Wildcat Pride Hour,” Superintendent Evelyn Browne said. “In the spring semester, there will be more formal courses offered for the students. We are looking at ways to incorporate technology and arts because that seems to be where our students are interested in going.”

Gifford said they are working hard to make sure that those programs are meeting the needs of the kids.

Banner County High School senior Jadyn Cross said she has noticed student participation in sports has declined, but she felt like the school offers a variety of sports that meets everyone’s interest.

Sophomore Catherine Blankenship echoed Cross in that the school offers extracurricular activities to meet the needs of students. While she participates in a variety of school activities, cross country is her favorite.

“It made me push my limits,” she said. “I wasn’t used to running that much.”

Blankenship said the school sent out a survey to the student body at the beginning of the year to learn about what activities students were most interested in and have done well to cater to those interests.

With students participating more in extracurricular activities like Future Farmers of America, One-Acts, Choir and Speech, the school is planning new activities for the year. There is currently discussion about having a spring play production to allow students who participated in one-act and others interested in stage production to share their talents with the community.

In addition to the creative arts, students are also learning about farming and how to harvest crops. The Banner County FFA program received a $2,000 grant to purchase Infinity Towers as they work to establish a farm-to-school lunch program. On Monday, the students were able to harvest from the new tower gardens and offer fresh greens for salads at lunch.

“In high school right now, the reason we don’t have sports is because we have a lot more artsy kids than sportsy kids,” Senior Jerardo Castillo said.

As Banner County Schools faculty makes adjustments to prepare students for their futures, senior Seth Dborak shared how other schools across the country are making similar changes.

“I wouldn’t say it is just our school because I read articles about people in other states and other schools not doing sports,” he said. “I just think there’s becoming more of a lack of interest in them.”

The high school will offer track and field during the spring, if students are interested in participating. Browne noted that the district has the funding to offer fall, winter and spring sports and the school board stands behind students who want to participate. However, the district and staff will continue to support student interest, which, at this time, is focused on extracurricular activities in arts and agriculture.

While the shift away from sports has led to no winter sports for Banner County High School, Browne is excited about the direction and vibe in the school.

“If anything there is a whole lot of new energy in the school that we’re hoping to attract students from other districts who are interested in these other programs.”

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