Sept. 25, 2017 Update: Thank you for your feedback. Please take a moment to read my update about athletics, activities and arts. 

As part of our work to expand opportunities for students, The Bellingham Promise guides us to look at the whole child, including our athletic and activity programs. For decades, research has shown that students who are able to pursue their passions through extra-curricular athletics, activities and the performing arts have better school attendance, academic success and are more likely to pursue higher education.

I wanted to share with you some exciting work we’ve accomplished in this area and our next steps:

  • In the past two years, we phased out pay-to-play athletics and removed participation fees at middle and high schools. We’ve since seen an increase in student participation. As we continue to analyze our participation data, we know there are still financial barriers that remain for students to participate in athletics, activities and performing arts. We’re working closely with our principals, athletic/activity coordinators, coaches, advisors, staff and parent leaders this year to examine our program needs, budgets and sources of funding, including fundraising to provide outstanding opportunities for students and reduce barriers to participation.
  • We’ve also been examining our offerings in athletics and activities, recently working with community partners to support sailing, rowing, debate, and possibly lacrosse.
  • We have many students signing up for some of our freshman teams with limited spots, resulting in some “cut sports” for ninth graders who try out but don’t make the team. Because freshman year is still an entry point for students to try out new opportunities, we’re exploring how we get more students engaged in the future.
  • We’re also looking at how we’re celebrating and recognizing students in these programs, most recently related to our student athletes and game rosters. For many years, game rosters with students’ names have been published and those with a GPA of 3.5 or 4.0 have been marked with an asterisk. In examining this practice and talking with student athletes, we’ve learned that this is a source of pride for some parents of students and at the same time, creates awkwardness and embarrassment among the student athletes and out in the community. Because we value grades as one measure of a student’s success, as well as the other whole child outcomes in The Bellingham Promise, we’re planning to discontinue the practice of publishing GPAs on game rosters while continuing to value and celebrate student athletes accomplishments at banquets, events and in other positive ways that doesn’t unintentionally shame some students. Our policies regarding our academic and behavior expectations for students participating in extra-curriculars isn’t changing, only the practice of noting GPA on game rosters.
  • We’ve made improvements to high school fields through our 2013 bond, which can decrease travel and time out of class for our athletes, and improved safety by adding lights.  Our next bond on the ballot this February will include the second phase of high school improvements, a full size gym at Shuksan Middle School and some elementary school field drainage improvements. We will also add an additional tennis court, and more full size gyms to the new schools we’re building to increase access for our students and community.
  • Regarding our music program, we’ve reinstated fifth grade strings through a new approach that includes all kids; we’ve also committed that every student has access to a district-owned (or leased) instrument. We expanded our guitar program to all high schools this year, and added more sections of guitar.  We’ve also taken the repair burdens off of our band and orchestra booster programs, and have committed to supporting repair, maintenance, replenishment, as well as uniform cleaning, contest fees and travel for music groups to the SJMEA solo/ensemble and All State/All Northwest events. Community partners in this include our Bellingham Public Schools Foundation and the Bellingham Festival of Music, etc.  Annual fundraising efforts by local musicians have also supported the Ray Downey Fund through our Foundation to provide coaching to sixth grade band students who are just starting out on their instruments.

It’s exciting to hear from students and families who move into our community from elsewhere in the state and nation, and are surprised by our work toward Project Free Education and the value we place on athletics, activities and the performing arts. I’m proud to be part of a community that supports the whole child and is committed to working toward better opportunities for all.

Please comment below if you have thoughts on this topic. I appreciate hearing from our students, families, staff and community.

Comments (55)

  • Amazing! I would like to suggest Orienteering and Water Polo as possible expansion ideas as well. Many colleges offer these…and they’re darn fun! 🙂

  • In my first year as a teacher in Bellingham, having come from another outstanding district that was not able to offer the same support and opportunities for students and teachers, I’m inspired to gush a bit about the amazing opportunity created by the community, teachers, and administration. I’m still pinching myself, trying for years previous to make orchestra a part of students’ lives and always being offered limited support and often being met with well-meaning, but powerful roadblocks. Now as I marshalled the violin and viola army now at my command, with a team of dedicated, communicative peers, I was so giddy I had to take a picture of my car filled with concrete representations of the Bellingham Promise for music education. Dr. Baker, Dr. Copland, and all those involved, the link that follows shows what the Promise looks like to me, filled with joy and excitement as I begin to put it to work!

    • Thanks for the comment, David! Appreciate your enthusiasm and your picture is worth more than 1000 words. Thanks for all of your amazing work with our students!

  • I would like to suggest a family punch card for families to attend sports! My son is a 3 sport athlete. We will spend over $270 to attend his football games alone. That’s while using a punch card at home games.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Beth. As you said, we do have punch cards that can help, and we are working on the concept of a family punch card where a whole family can get in for a reduced amount. And FYI for others who don’t know: currently, our punch cards are $40 for 10 athletic events. These cards can be presented to the ticket booth as admission to a home game. One punch is equal to one admission. These can be purchased at Bellingham, Sehome or Squalicum high schools’ ASB office or from ticket sellers at the games. Thanks again Beth.

      • I believe that some county schools offer a pass per person for $85 for all home sports games. It’s nice to support all sports & go for fun w/o breaking the bank. It would be great to do something similar & maybe a deeper discount for staff. It’s great when teachers come to support their students & making it affordable for them as well is important.

    • Great idea about a punch card. Can the school district offer a “season pass” for all athletic events to be purchased at the start of the school year. I believe the idea is to make it affordable for families to attend the events while supporting their children. With multiple children in school, all of whom play sports, I’m in favor of being charged to attend the event, perhaps we can consider a discount pass?

      • Thanks Mike. I’ve asked my team to think through some different models. I believe you’re right that this would help many families who have kids participating in sports. Thank you!

  • Dr. Baker, you have profoundly ushered our local schools into the 21st-Century. You make our U.S. democracy walk its talk. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

  • Too bad that no cellos are allowed on the buses:–(
    A parent friend only learned this after their child had already started cello, and the instrument rental (much more than a violin) was paid for.

    • Hi Piper, thanks for the comment. I’m sorry for your friend and I’d love to connect with them to help problem-solve! While some large instruments aren’t currently allowed on buses, we don’t want that to ever stop a student from accessing their instrument at home or school. If anyone is having a challenge, they can contact my office and we will figure things out.

  • Dr Baker, with respect to the game rosters, it’s a shame that we can not honor those student athletes who have worked very hard on their grades. Perhpas seeing an * by ones name might inspire and motivate those students who don’t have a * by their name. I sure hope this policy does not bleed over to the school graduation programs. Please lets not continue to dumb down recognition programs to the lowest common denominator just because someone’s feelings are hurt. These are high schoolers we are talking about, These students will soon be entering the real world.

    • I agree with this being a disappointing move and know a few athletes who were motivated to work harder to earn this honor, only to achieve it and have in be for not. I will encourage them to speak up so their voice may be heard on this matter. Very bummed about this decision.

    • I concur. My high school student athlete currently has a 4.0. He shows the same level of dedication when he participates in athletics and leads by demonstrating this work ethic to his team mates during every practice and competition. I find this sad and unfair to student athletes like mine.

    • hi Mike, Kelli and Gina, I appreciate your comments and understand the sentiment. Yes, the asterisk might motivate some non-asterisk students, but we have also learned that it can have the opposite effect and demotivate our students. Since sending this message out yesterday, I have been getting emails from parents who had the opposite reaction to this idea. Some may not want to publish their name/comment to the blog to protect the identity of their student. Here’s part of an email I received last night from a mother (I removed personally identifying details from her email):

      Just read your Athletics, Activities, Arts, and The Bellingham Promise update.
      As a member of the Bellingham Community at large, I thank the school District for finding so many ways for students to have access to different opportunities regardless of social-economic status!
      As a mother of a student who was recently identified with dyslexia (and who works his butt off just to meet grade level standards (and sometime still “falls short”)), I appreciate the fact that the district will no longer be publishing GPAs on game rosters. I imagine there will be those who disagree with me, but there are plenty of other times and more appropriate places for students to be recognized for the academic achievements… I am working on noticing abilities more rather than always focusing on what our society often views as “dis” abilities. Thank you for giving our students who shine as athletes (and artists, and more in other arenas) the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy their strengths and perhaps passions, without the reminder of what may be a struggle for them. Believe me, they know, without the reminder.

      As I said in my email, this is just one practice we plan to discontinue. We will continue to celebrate student athletes’ accomplishments in other ways — at banquets, events and in other positive ways that doesn’t unintentionally shame some students.

      I’m happy to sit down and talk with you and others who feel differently. Thanks for your feedback!

      • I can see both sides of this discussion. I have a child with learning issues who works just as hard as other kids, if not harder and often falls short of meeting standard. It’s super discouraging for him at times. He’s also a very talented athlete. I can say with confidence that an * next to a name on a sports roster is not going to phase him one way or the other. He’s used to his peers and friends recognition in academics while he struggles. He knows that just because he can’t get a 4 or 4.0 doesn’t mean he isn’t just as great. But like the previous poster, he also doesn’t need the reminder!

        Then again, I have another student athlete that has worked hard to maintain good GPA. He would be motivated by the * next to his name to keep up that good GPA. That child is a Lacrosse player and BOY would we love to see that as part of the high school offerings! I wish it didn’t say “possibly lacrosse” in the newsletter!

        • Thank you for the feedback, Amy. One view I’d like to add is that a student’s grades week to week is not really anyone’s business, outside the student, parent/guardian, teacher and coach. I don’t believe it’s appropriate for us as a school district to be sharing the GPAs of our students each week at sporting events. If a student or parent wants to share that information with others, then they can do so. If a parent believes it motivates their own child to receive an asterisk and share it with others, then there are probably ways they could do that (i.e. social media). I think the intent of motivating students and celebrating student achievement is great and important; I just think there are other ways we can accomplish this goal. Thanks again for taking time the time to share your perspective.

      • Dr Baker, we have two boys in the school district and have been consistently impressed with the attentiveness, care, and seriousness your team demonstrates in helping us raise productive & responsible boys. It truly does take a village! In this pursuit, we work hard to teach and show our boys that they will be entering a world full of opportunities, but the key to opening the door will require a high level of preparation, skill, and character. There’s simply no way around this. It’s a humbling realization, but once they discover their ability to dream and earn, anything is possible. I’m not sure how recognizing athletes with high gpa ever became a target, or reason, for awkward or shameful environment. The idea just sounds misunderstood. The kids who are able to perform at these high levels on and off court are simply inspiring! They operate on the same 24 hour clock everyone else does, but have managed to find creatively efficient ways to complete their assignments. As a parent of two active student athletes, it’s inspiring to see them discovering the power of grit, determination, and responsibility in their lives. These are habits we hope the community will recognize and reward. In our hyper visual society, the * is a poor and ineffective symbol to recognize the work ethic, efficiency, and mastery of time management these young kids are applying. A more interesting idea would be to profile their paths in finding success. Provide a few extra pages in the brochure to share their stories of grit and determination. Many of their peers will find they have more similarities and differences. Another possible idea would be to add a lot more recognition badges. The boys and girls scouts do an amazing job recognizing different interests, why can’t our schools do it? I remember my oldest son receiving a badge for ping-pong when he was in 4th grade (now a freshman)! That’s cool! Nothing is preventing us from recognizing the student entrepreneur, student chef, student volunteer, etc. Kids will shine in so many areas unique to themselves, and if we’re attentive, we can help support them by letting them know that we recognize. Instead of taking recognition away from hard working student-athletes, why not add more?. You and your creative team of educators will, as always, amaze us.

        Sorry for the super long response. I’m quite new to blogging.

    • I too am very disappointed in the discontinuation of the honoring of the student athletes on the sports rosters. Student athletes are suppose to be students first then athletes and to be able to maintain a 4.0 or a 3.5 grade average while keeping up with the demands of being an athlete is quite the accomplishment. Sometimes our student athletes don’t come home from an away game until midnight and then stay up to do their homework and study until the wee hours of the morning with the next school day only a few hours away. Hard work should be rewarded publicly not just during a banquet with their fellow student athletes. Students work even harder just to keep their * on the sports rosters. This new change seems to align with the mentality of a medal for every participant instead of rewarding the ones who work the hardest. Maintaining a 4.0 or a 3.5 grade average in High School is quite the accomplishment, to maintain that while playing sports is something that should be honored. I hope you reconsider your decision and encourage student athletes to voice their opinions about this change as well.

      • Thanks Aubrey. Again I really appreciate the perspective, and I think honoring students for hard work is a positive action. Yet, I just don’t think this strategy is the right one. What a student’s grade is or isn’t, I believe, should be more private and not just published on a program handed out to anyone coming to a game. If a parent or student wants to share their own information with others on their own, I think that’s just fine. Again, thanks for the dialogue.

    • I also agree that we should celebrate the hard work of the athletes do off the field. This may also motivate other kids to work harder in the classroom.

      We need to teach our kids that you get reconized for your hard work and we don’t always get trophies.

  • Dr Baker, I appreciate everything you’ve made happen in your years here. Thank you. Regarding the freshmen getting cut from sports, I have a personal tale to tell. When I was a freshman in high school, in California, I did not make the soccer team nor the softball team. I had been playing both sports for years and thought I was pretty good. I did not give up. Tenacity and resilience are my middle names! I substituted those sports for less popular ones. I ran track for three years, played JV basketball two years, and played tennis 4 years, including 2 years varsity. Encourage freshman to try out for less popular sports! 30 years later, I am still friends with many of my former teammates!

    A message from my 5th grader: music is her favorite part of school and she is thrilled to be learning violin.

    • Hi Kathy, thanks for your comment and for sharing your personal story. We know the value and importance of kids being involved in sports and activities, which is why we’re continuing to work on better inclusion and more opportunities. Thanks again.

  • Dr. Baker you continue to make me so proud of our school district and our community here in Bellingham. Thank you to you and every staff member of the school district for providing our students every opportunity to be successful!!!

  • As a new family to Bellingham, we are very happy with what we have learned about the public schools. Our 8th grader loves his new educational environment at Kulshan MS. After 30+ years of experience in teaching I am impressed with the direction of your leadership to support and enrich the community. Being out of the country for the past 20 years, I can objectively say that American public education is “promising” here in Bellingham. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Jerry! Welcome to Bellingham! We have an amazing community of families, students, staff and partners who all play a significant role in making positive change. I appreciate your comment.

  • Dr Baker,

    Your continual work to honor all student interests shines through with this article about activities and athletics. I can tell you first hand, having a new turf field installed at our High School has changed the way we conduct Physical Education classes. We have been able to add international games to our curriculum and play LaCrosse, flag football, Ultimate frisbee, Cricket and many other wonderful games thanks to the improvement of the fields! Thanks for honoring the whole child and recognizing that Physical Activity and Physical Education add value to all children’s lives.

    • Hi Mark, thanks for your positive comment and for sharing the impact of the new turf field at Squalicum. We’ll be celebrating Bellingham’s new field on Friday, and we look forward to the new fields (and school!) at Sehome. Look for “Phase II” of high school turf fields for soccer, baseball and softball at Bellingham, Sqalicum and Sehome high schools in the next facilities bond, which will be on the ballot in February 2018. Given our weather, it is a game-changer (literally and figuratively!) for our physical education students, athletes and marching bands. Thanks again, Mark!

  • Thank you for your leadership and vision to provide interesting, diverse, and creative opportunities for all students. What a difference this makes in the lives of kids. Both of our kids are active in sports and clubs and they get to interact with other students, teachers, and parent volunteers in collaborative ways that build relationships and leadership skills. We are lucky to live and work in Bellingham!

  • Dear Sir:

    I just became aware of your decision regarding the asterisk in the athletic programs by student’s names with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. As grandparents of two student athletes who work very hard to earn that designation, I really take exception to your decision. I have no idea how you arrived at this decision and who else had input. Did the school board, staff, or parents have input? Any and all students are free to work hard to earn this designation, as my grandsons have. It in no way demeans any other students, as they all have ample opportunity to earn that designation. This has been a long standing tradition and I see no reason to discontinue it.

  • I am writing here regarding the decision to remove academic asterisks for qualifying athletes. I completely disagree with this decision. Students work hard to maintain a full academic schedule, training schedule and home life schedule. Their reward should be recognition of their efforts. This is not to be perceived as “shaming” others for not accomplishing this. This has been a practice used for many years and has hurt no one. Are we really living in a world that people are that sensitive that we must cave to a small tiny percent of individuals that complain about anything and everything? I’m appalled. I personally wasn’t on that academic level but played sports and I would NEVER have that taken away from my fellow teammates just because I didn’t make the grades. This is NOT the answer. Less time complaining and maybe more time hitting the books with you student/children if you are unhappy with their grade results. Shame on you.

  • Dear Dr. Baker:
    I, too, find it outrageous that the practice of putting an * next to a student’s name on an athletic roster is going to be discontinued. We are the parents of two student-athletes and the student part comes first and should be recognized. Our kids work extremely hard to maintain a high grade point average. One of the many wonderful things about our district is that there are so many opportunities for a child to find a place to shine. In nearly every publication, email, blog, sign, newsletter, etc. we celebrate some child’s success. Why should we discontinue this practice on game rosters? If we are going to go down that path, what is next? Should we do away with athletics all together, as not everyone wins? Should we stop grading tests, as not everyone gets a high grade? Should we stop keeping track of grades, as not everyone gets a high GPA? Should we stop posting in newsletters when a student wins a bridge building competition, because other students did not win? Should we stop posting photos at school of students that are multi-sport varsity letterwinners? Should we stop having an National Honor Society, as not everyone can be a member? Should we stop designating a high GPA on graduation programs? Should we do away with honor cords worn at graduation? We should be shouting from the rooftops any and all successes! Also, as a note – we do not “publish” GPA’s on rosters, we merely notate those who have a 3.5 or higher. I can’t count how many people I hear at games who talk about how neat it is that we currently show those little * on our rosters. From your responses, it sounds like the decision has already been made. Who else was involved in this decision-making process? Are there still opportunities for discussion? Are there school board meetings where it will be discussed? There are so many discussions on social media on this topic and I have not read a single one that agrees with your decision. All I have seen are in agreement that policy should not be discontinued.

  • Dr. Baker,
    I applaud your leadership in the areas of facility development, reducing the financial burden for participation etc. We have had 3 student athletes through Squalicum High School (2 graduates and 1 a current Junior). Two have had 4.0 GPA’s while the third at various times had above a 3.5 and at other times below. I encourage you to rethink the decision of no longer recognizing these students’ accomplishments. It seems a reaction to a vocal minority rather than listening to the community as a whole. The reaction on social media seems overwhelmingly negative to this decision. What next? Do we no longer publish an honor roll? Do we stop accepting state level awards on a school/team basis from the WIAA? Quit hanging state championship banners in our gyms? When/where will the student athletes’ accomplishments be recognized? Regarding embarrassment or awkwardness, I believe that the ‘ineligible’ moniker is much more punitive and public. When a student falls below the level allowed to participate it is glaringly obvious to all team members why someone is not suiting up for that week’s game. But we have that standard in place for obvious reasons. The only true GPA that is actually being disclosed on and individual basis is for those with 4.0’s (as that is a cumulative reflection of their entire career…not just the week/month/semester). For those with a 3.5 or above there is no way that any person reading a program would know if a student had a 3.5 or a 3.99. Nor do we know what every other player who falls below 3.5 is achieving. At a district level you recognize, celebrate and publish individual accomplishments like ‘Teacher of the Year’ awards and administrative awards. Why is it okay to acknowledge that level of achievement for our adult leaders but not for our student athletes?

  • Please reconsider taking the asterisk away. As a proud parent of a Squalicum student I believe this distinction for student athletes that achieve high grades is sound and not shaming of students that have not achieved high grades. I think pointing out athletic scholars in our rosters at sporting events is important and should be continued.

  • I like to see which athletes are also excelling in school. I never look at he roster to see who is not excelling. Teamwork celebrates the successes of others. If someone is jealous, they need to learn to deal with it, part of life. Most athletes already know how to handle losing.

  • We have grandsons in the Bellingham school District and they work very hard to earn the grades they get. They also play sports and it has been nice to see them recognized for the grades they get. Isn’t it true that they have to have a certain grade average to be able to play? We just don’t understand why they are going to be penalized and not recognized for being good students. We are so proud of them and it’s sad that they won’t be recognized for that. It’s just wrong

  • Lots of good stuff above…and yet, also, I have to disagree with the removing the asterisk on the programs. Not because that’s the way its been or tradition (that’s usually the worst reason to keep something), but because of the reasoning driving the decision. As a former educator myself, and as a parent, the part that is disturbing is the message we’re explicitly sending is that we’d rather err on the side of hurting anyone’s feelings, over recognizing good work in something as simple as a denotation that an athlete has done well in their studies. That’s just wrong, the principle is not even really debatable, and I’m a social liberal even:-). So, just another voice of dissent on what is otherwise a really nice list of great accomplishments and decisions above. Yes, I get the point that a few students might not feel great about it, sure, that’s probably true…but it shouldn’t be the simple test for decision-making, the message we’re sending is the wrong one in this case.

  • Do not do away with astericks. These kids work hard for a 3.5+ and especially the 4.0 GPA. These kids are scholar-athletes and are role models. You have raised the bar academically by offering and encouraging so many AP classes. If our athletes can maintain a 3.5+ and work physically hard for sports, they deserve recognition. One of the things I love is the standard that our coaches set: school first. This is not shaming the other students. It is not like you are posting everyone’s GPA. It’s an asterisks well earned. Please keep the asterisks.

  • Dear Dr. Baker
    I do not understand how you can justify taking away an asterisk from an athlete that not only supports their school and fellow teammates but chose to excel in the classroom. In life we are told to focus on the positive but your decision makes we question if you are rewarding bad behavior? I think schools need to honor the hard work, perseverance, determination, blood, sweat, and tears students display on and off the field!!! Coachable (smart) children are incentive for future generations and we shouldn’t take away from their success.

  • Just an FYI: the cheerleaders have asterisks on tonight’s roster and it makes me proud of them. The football players have been removed. Stanwood honored their 3.5+ cumulative GPAs, like all other high schools we play. Also, I have seen parents posting on Facebook about the state issuing team academic awards. I don’t know the details but would this exclude our students. I think this needs to be reversed.

  • I appreciate that the thought behind this is based on fairness and equality. I have an athlete with an asterisk and one without. I feel like a student’s academic success should be applauded on and off the field. Our athletes who are academic leaders help to inspire other students to do their best. Many times these are the students offering help and guidance to those athletes that struggle. To not acknowledge that would be an injustice to their efforts both on and off the field. When I asked my student without the asterisk if they should take it away, the response was “Why would they do that? They earned it. They deserve it.” The WIAA recognizes teams for academic achievement. Why would the district not do the same for their students? The hours of practice every week balanced with student dedication to their grades is an inspiring example of the greatness our students are capable of.

  • Dr. Baker-
    I am a conscientious high school student, active volunteer and competitive athlete. Since the start of this new schedule, I’ve found myself constantly under high stress and subject to unhealthy sleeping habits due to the excessive daily workload. While the later start time is intended to enable students to get more sleep, I haven’t gotten any more sleep than I got last year, due to a massive nightly workload. For any student involved in extra- curricular activities, this new 8 period schedule presents new and unhealthy challenges. Since keeping up grades is a requirement to participate in athletics, why make that so difficult to achieve? Not to mention active students aiming higher than just a passing mark. The Bellingham promise states that each student has the right to be exceptional in whatever way they see fit. Currently, I and other students around me, are finding it difficult to achieve our full potential, while doing what is deemed challenging to ourselves.
    In addition, with class periods that are each 85 minutes long, it is nearly impossible to maintain the full attention span necessary for each class. In fact, the average attention span of a teenage student is only 10-15 minutes, as proven by multiple research studies. Cramming material meant to be spread out over two or three periods, into one longer, extended period is quite simply an ineffective and pointless way of learning. As I study and prepare for each of my classes, I keep finding myself thinking that I am not going to be retaining this information much past the next test or homework assignment.
    I am convinced there must be a better way to offer more choice in coursework while keeping students healthy and engaged, but the 4X8 schedule is not the way.

  • Dr. Baker,
    I would also like to hear more details regarding your statement, “In examining this practice and talking with student athletes, we’ve learned that this is a source of pride for some parents of students and at the same time, creates awkwardness and embarrassment among the student athletes and out in the community.” — what exactly took place? How many student athletes were contacted? How many parents were contacted? I haven’t heard from one SQHS family that their student athlete(s) were contacted nor apparently were any of the parents. You mentioned above in a reply that you are willing to sit down and talk about it. How about a public town hall type meeting where the invitation is extended to all student athletes and their families?

  • Why does that (*) means so much to you? Just my thoughts…No FEEDBACK Necessary.
    Why does that (*) means so much to you? We know our kids worked hard for it but, does that (*) define who our kids are? Does that (*) defines their character? Does that (*) defines their integrity? Does that (*) really defines their hard work?
    Why don’t the (*) means that much to me? I see further than just the student athletes with the (*) and see the student athletes that work just as hard. I see the student athlete that might have a learning disability but, work just as hard. I see the student athlete that is homeless and don’t have enough light after practice to complete his/her homework but, use every idle time to his/her best. Just some of the reasons why the (*) don’t mean that much to me.
    I asked my sons did the (*) define them and what it meant to them. They said, it doesn’t matter if it was on that paper or not. They didn’t even see the game program so, the (*) didn’t make them play any better, the (*) didn’t make them win or lose games, the (*) didn’t make them respect their coaches and teammates. I know who I am on and off the football field, basketball court, and track field. I know who I am in the classroom and outside the classroom.
    Do you need a cause? Wow… and the (*)is the one you chose.
    Not the bullying going on in our schools? Not the so called gang affiliation and activity in our schools? Not the homelessness in our schools? Not the alcohol and drugs in our schools? Not the suicidal tendencies in our schools?
    I didn’t see controversy when Dr. Baker eliminating Pay-to-Play. No one was against that. No one stepped up and said, oh no that’s not right because, we can afford to pay our own sports fees.
    I know everyone has an opinion directly or indirectly. One thing I ask of you, before you voice your opinion sometimes think about how it will affect the people around you. You know why I say that, is because I was the person who didn’t care until I took in a baby off the streets. Until I gave a student from the same high school my kids attend somewhere to lay his head and food to eat. Until we bought a kid a pair of shoes and coat during the winter because, he was wearing 2 different color shoes to school and no coat. Get out your bubble and look at what is at our front door (at your student athletes school), and that is why that (*) does not mean so much to me.
    Thank you Dr. Baker & Staff for all your hard work and dedication! I am proud that my kids are part of the Bellingham Promise.

  • Thank you everyone for your thoughtful feedback. For the time being, we plan to maintain the past practice of using asterisks to highlight individual GPAs of 3.5 and above on game rosters while we discuss this issue further with parents and student athletes while ensuring that those who are uncomfortable with this practice have a voice in the conversations. Please read more in my latest message.

    • Ok, just have to say, read your new blog post and was just super impressed…love the fact you listened, decided to amend things a bit, and still look for new and different ways to approach that can be more of a win-win, just really collaborative. None of get everything exactly all of the time, especially on the first try, but the real measure of success is how we react to things when they don’t turn out the way we expected the first time. Fist-bump:-).

  • As a parent of a Freshman who happens to be a good student I was surprised to see the asterisk thing on sports programs. It feels to me to be somewhere between a boast or an overshare. It doesn’t seem at all to be an appropriate form of. Or venue for, acknowledgement for academic achievement. Besides, shouldn’t this information be kept private unless the person wishes it to be shared? I also feel the practice is a diss to the kids who aren’t academic standouts. In this Facebook, social media culture do we really need to publicize how kids are performing in school?

  • Praise reinforces good behavior, basic human nature. Human Resources 101. I agree with recognizing these students that work hard to excel and hope the school district continues this practice. My son’s are no longer on the football team; but know they liked being recognized for their hard work and commitment to their grades/their future. Thank you for your consideration.

  • Thank you for reinstating 5th grade strings. My daughters had access to this program in 5th grade and it led to continued violin-playing and music. I worked hard the year it was cut with the school district, the music teachers, and the individual schools to have it reinstated. Although it was not at that time, I’m so glad it now is.

    Also, thank you for addressing the freshman “cut sports.” My daughters stepped out of their comfort zones to try a new sport the summer before their freshmen years, attending athletic camp, buying the gear, and then trying out the first week of school. They did not make the team, and this led to a very different high school athletic experience than they might have had. So thank you for looking into that.

  • Teachable moments with children are often powerful due to their timeliness and authenticity. Teachers understand how important connecting to a child is to make the best impact that relates to what that child is concerned with at that time. Yesterday, my son left Kulshan MS and walked to City Hall to join the other students who voiced their opinions about safety in schools. My wife and I had read your message about this event, and called Kulshan to excuse our son from his class. I also wanted to talk to the school about their perspective of allowing their students to leave school without any supervision. Although we had talked to our son about this event and the Parkland, FL shooting that initiated it, we were not sure how the school was handling this and was a little concerned about the safety of our son. We decided to go to school to see what was happening. We saw several students walking around both near the school and on the street. As we headed toward City Hall we were surprised to see many students and adults walking in our direction. We heard someone talking on a bull horn. We met our son at City Hall and experienced an event that we had never experienced in our lives in all of the years living in Japan before this year. My son missed his presentation in his class at school of his own opinion writing on this day, but received an education experience that he will never forget the rest of his life. Thank you.

  • Hi Dr. Baker,
    After reading this post last year about the commitment to the 5th grade strings program and access to instruments, I was surprised that we had to rent our student a violin to participate this fall. The district website also states that Project Free Education “provided violins for 5th graders”, but this is not the case across the district. If this is a long-term goal of the project, then I think changing the language to reflect that would more accurately communicate current expectations and future visions.