We often hear how education has changed and how difficult itis to reach out and connect students to school. Going to school has always been the best part of the day for a lot of students – particularly those students escaping from their sometimes painful life away from school. I will always remember those teachers that had the largest impact on me as a person. Each teacher, advisor, or coach that influenced me in a significant manner showed that they believed in me, actually talked to me, and genuinely were interested in how I felt that day and what was going on in my life. I would see them at extra-curricular events and they were the adults in school that always seemed to be available before school, after class, during lunch, or after school. Your students are fortunate to have many of these same caring and committed teachers at East! In addition to the connection teachers and staff can help students feel, students can take their own initiative and participate in extracurricular activities. The research is fairly consistent that students generally benefit from the many opportunities afforded them. Most of the studies in this area bear out that the numerous advantages include: having better grades, a decrease in absenteeism, having higher standardized test scores and higher educational attainment, and having a higher self-concept. Further, it was demonstrated that these participants in extra-curricular activities often learned skills such as teamwork and leadership while decreasing the likelihood of alcohol use and illicit drug use and related problem behaviors. The data I’ve examined studied primarily 4 types of participation: athletics, arts, service clubs, and school clubs. At East High, we are proud to support over 40 clubs and 16 sport teams that provide a way for students to meet other students, connect to the school, compete in healthy activities, and provide service to the community. One excellent example is the over 150 active members of the National Honor Society, who maintain an exceptionally high GPA and who participate in at least one volunteer project each month. Bottom line – our goal is to get every student connected to East by participating in at least one extra-curricular activity so they can reap all the benefits. If you need more information on what activities are available, talk to your assigned counselor, one of the student’s teachers, or an administrator. The mission of East High is “To enable all students to reach their maximum potential.” High standards and expectations for each student in regard to academic rigor, extra-curricular participation, and service to others are the foundation of our school.