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Gateway tightens GPA rules

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By Kyle Lawson
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.

Gateway School District officials have tightened academic-based eligibility requirements for students involved in competitive extracurricular activities.

Students involved in competitive extracurricular activities — not just athletes — who earn less than 2.0 grade-point average this year won't be able to participate in such activities next year under a revised policy the Gateway School Board adopted last week.

That also applies to students who move into the school district. Because the policy essentially attaches the preceding year's GPA to transfer students, those with poor academic standing at their old schools won't get a clean slate at Gateway.

They'll have to learn their way into eligibility.

The previous policy required students in competitive activities to maintain a 2.0 GPA for at least the previous four and a half weeks of school.

“The real game is being played every day in the classroom,” said school director Skip Drumheller at last week's Gateway school board meeting. “If (students) are having difficulties, they should seek assistance early.”

There are a number of programs in place at the high school to address students who are struggling, including a math lab, writing center, one-on-one tutoring and academic support periods in lieu of study hall, Gateway School District spokeswoman Cara Zanella said. There also are tutors who work for a fee and online tutorial websites accessible to students, she said.

At the middle school, students with “significant” needs in math are assigned to double math periods, and there is an academic advisory period for students struggling with reading or math, she said.

The revised GPA policy initially was to take effect this school year, which would have meant some students who completed summer school and were told they could play high school football this year would have been almost immediately ineligible to participate.

Two high school football players in danger of losing their senior season fought through tears at the Sept. 17 district work session as they pleaded their case to the school board.

“If I miss this year, my future is based on what already had happened,” Ahmir Wilkerson told district officials at that meeting.

The school board subsequently agreed that it would be unfair to enact the revised policy this year. They voted 9-0 Sept. 26 to hold off implementation until next year.

Wilkerson was pleased with the decision and said the revised policy has made him rethink the importance of academics.

“I think it's good that they have the (policy). I realize that my grades affect a lot of what I do.”

Gateway parent Tammy Richardson said parents also are responsible for keeping their children on track academically.

“You need to know the teachers, the ones teaching your children,” she said.

“Don't be afraid to ask questions.”

A complete list of competitive extracurricular activities to which the revised GPA policy applies was not available by the time this paper went to deadline, but Zanella said that in addition to athletics, activities that will be affected by the policy include Future Business Leaders of America, forensics and marching band.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or

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