While school sports and activities have been put on hold this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Fargo athletic directors had some good news Monday, April 27, as activity participation numbers hit record highs last year.
West Fargo High School Activities Director Jay DeCann told the school board that 68 percent or 1,474 students at Cheney Middle School and West Fargo High School were involved in activities, a record high.
At Sheyenne High School, Activities Director Ross Richards reported 75 percent of students in grades seven through 12 are in at least one activity, or 1,649 students in the 2018-19 school year.
"We made a concerted effort to get these numbers higher, and we've really done that," Richards said.
Richards said the high numbers are very encouraging, not only the participation but also the wide variety of activities students are involved in from sports to clubs to performances.
Although the district does not track specific student demographics, DeCann said West Fargo activities has been very diverse.
"Soccer, football, basketball, track and field, we're starting to see more of the EEL kids participate in that, wrestling too," board member Jim Jonas said.
DeCann said teammates on the last boys soccer team to win a state championship spoke seven different languages, and coaches were able to use that to their advantage.
"It was one of the most incredible things I've every been a part of in co-curriculars, seeing how our coaches make that work," DeCann said.
The athletic directors hope to raise participation to 78 percent across the district.
Football and track (boys and girls teams) garnered the most participants across the district and football and hockey cost the two schools the most money.
However, at Sheyenne High School, where football cost nearly $98,000 to operate, it generated the most money of about $12,200. There, basketball and hockey also generated more than $11,000 each.
At West Fargo High School, the drama club is the school's highest money earner, bringing in about $20,700, followed by football, which brought in about $15,700.
Richards said sometimes the drama club's performance choice can make a difference in generating revenue. He cited Sheyenne's production of "Phantom of the Opera" three years ago, which reached an all-time-high revenue record.
"It was just a hit in the community," Richards said.
Richards, the first athletic director at Sheyenne High School and longtime educator and coach, will retire at the end of June. West Fargo High School teacher and coach Greg Limke was named to replace him.
Richards said Monday he was grateful for his time in West Fargo and it's been a great experience opening a new high school at Sheyenne, but retiring at a time schools and activities are shut down has been bittersweet.
"Not the way I wanted to end, like this though," Richards said.
In other school news:
Superintendent Beth Slette said Monday, April 27, that while a date for schools to reopen has not yet been determined and may not be before the end of this school year, the district will still consider setting a date for prom and graduation events.
Slette said the district plans to make a decision regarding prom and graduation on or around May 4.
"We are really being tested on our ability to be flexible, nimble and quick," Slette said.
Factors that will help determine when schools reopen will include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, Gov. Doug Burgum's guidelines and if businesses reopen.