Legislation sponsored by Senate Republicans Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Diane Allen to extend opportunities to earn varsity letters to high school students who participate in competitive activities other than athletics has passed the New Jersey Senate.
“Extending varsity letters to kids who compete on stage or in a classroom doesn’t diminish the value of the letter – it enhances it,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “Our schools are home to some of the best performing arts programs in the country. I think anyone who has witnessed a standing ovation at a school musical would agree that the kids who participate in these programs deserve varsity letters, too.”
S-2398 provides that school districts may adopt a policy allowing high school students who participate in any school-sponsored, interscholastic extracurricular activities that include competitions to earn a varsity letter awarded by the district.
“Interscholastic competition is becoming increasingly common, especially as we continue to see more of our students interested in science and math,” Senator Allen (R-7) said. “We need to show these kids that academic achievements matter. Whether it’s with the chess team, robotics club, or any other academic win over other schools, we must acknowledge that. Our student performers and academic competitors work just as hard as our athletes. They should be honored in the same meaningful way.”
Currently, each board of education may decide the sports and activities for which a student may be eligible to receive a varsity letter. The legislation is permissive and would not require schools to give out varsity letters to students who compete in extracurricular activities outside of athletics.
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