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No wrestling for Powell sixth-graders

A proposal to start a wrestling program for sixth-grade students at Powell Middle School has been denied by the Powell school board.

Casey Dearcorn of Powell brought his proposal to the Park County School District No. 1 board of trustees Tuesday evening after having it first denied by the middle school and then by Superintendent Kevin Mitchell.

Mitchell said the board decided Tuesday evening to support the administration’s recommendation and deny Dearcorn’s request. The wrestling proposal will not appear on next month’s school board agenda unless two or more board members wish to discuss it further.

Mitchell said there were multiple reasons to deny the request, including funding and practicality.

“Generally speaking, the lower the grade level, the higher the participation on most activities. We don’t have the capacity or the funding to start up more sports programs,” Mitchell said.

Dearcorn said a sixth-grade wrestling program is necessary due to the current state of club wrestling in the Big Horn Basin. Most Wyoming middle school students are wrestling through their schools, not local clubs, Dearcorn said. This has depleted the number of middle school competitors at wrestling meets.

Dearcorn said starting a sixth-grade wrestling program would be a “no cost” proposition, but Mitchell said that is not the main issue.

Mitchell said allowing sixth graders to wrestle would be unfair. The middle school offers wrestling for seventh- and eighth-grade students, but doesn’t have soccer or golf programs of any grade level.

“How do we single out wrestling and make it more important than other activities? We’re not going to,” Mitchell said.

If the district were to implement Dearcorn’s proposal, Mitchell said similar cases could be made for adding other sixth-grade sports.

“If the district denied their request, then this would certainly elevate wrestling to a status (above) the other programs,” Mitchell said.

Dearcorn, who was thanked by the board for his professionalism and cooperation, said he doesn’t see a downside to offering wrestling to sixth graders.

“It’s hard to understand why such a positive thing for the kids all around, which is being done all around the state, is not allowed to happen in Powell,” he said.

Dearcorn said there is a strong contingent of supporters in Powell that are in favor of adding not just wrestling, but other activities for sixth-graders as well.

But Dearcorn’s request wasn’t denied due to a lack of support. Mitchell said it was a decision heavily based on pragmatism.

“The district doesn’t have the funding or capacity to offer sixth-grade students the same activities as seventh- and eighth-grade students,” Mitchell said.

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8 comments

  • posted by fishy

    June 11, 2013 8:50 am

    Won't take long before that State Championship wrestling team can't even field all the weights at a varsity level because of this.

  • posted by Rapp

    June 10, 2013 8:47 pm

    We should start middle school soccer. I have been approached by multiple coaches from around the state trying to start middle school soccer programs. That decision should have nothing to do with six grade wrestling. If you offer one sport at the sixth grade level that is offered in 7th and 8th, then you should offer all. Personal opinion.

  • posted by vote

    June 10, 2013 4:57 pm

    Looks like they are going to vote after all. Wonder how hard the strings are being moved around to make sure the school board votes the schools way and punishes the kids.

  • posted by fishy

    May 31, 2013 11:07 pm

    Lol,"we don't have soccer or golf," newsflash, neither does anyone else at the middle school level. Let's implement a sport where we can't play anyone which makes more sense than wrestling where every school seems to have it except us, give me a break. Stop blowing smokescreens at the board with no facts to support them.

  • posted by Vote

    May 31, 2013 4:52 pm

    Was this voted by on by "the board", all those that are representing the powell residents, or only a select few in an under the table decision. How is an informational item voted on anyway? Doesn't that need to be done at a public meeting as an action item? Produce the vote, or put it on the agenda and vote correctly. Show the citizens of powell you are here for them and their children, not just a do what the superintendent says board.

  • posted by Fishy

    May 31, 2013 10:53 am

    Looks like its time to email the board

  • posted by Brandi Dearcorn

    May 30, 2013 10:32 pm

    I would like to start with a question. “Why are our 6th grade students denied an opportunity to participate in athletics, specifically wrestling, at Powell Middle School?”
    Out of 40 schools surveyed, 38 schools allow their 6th graders the opportunity to participate in athletics. I think everyone can agree that every school has academics as their focus, but many schools have decided to embrace 6th grade athletics and allow it to enhance academics in conjunction with their student experience. Out of the 38 schools, those that had a wrestling program implemented, extended the opportunity to their 6th graders. Of the 2 remaining schools, Laramie just recently dropped their 6th grade program because much of their conference is made up of schools composed of 7th and 8th graders only. With all the middle schools in Powells conference allowing their 6th graders to wrestle, what is keeping us from allowing ours to do the same?
    Both Superintendent Mitchell, and Principal Sleep have stated that Powell needs to be compared to Worland and Cody for an effective comparison to be made. With that statement in mind, lets first look at the athletics and activities at each school. All three middle schools offer a similar number and type of activities and athletics. At PMS, 7th and 8th graders participated in over 70% of the activities and athletics offered this past year, while 6th graders participated in less than 20% due to lack of interest in offerings and inability to participate due to grade level restrictions. We can assume Worland and Cody had higher participation numbers due to their athletic program that is offered to 6th graders. Second, lets look at Paws scores for the last couple of years. Powell 7th and 8th Graders scored higher than both Cody and Worland on 75% of the tests taken. Powell 6th graders scored higher than both Cody and Worland on only 25% of the tests taken. Last, lets’ look at funding. Within the block grant the state provides to each district, there is an allocated amount for student activities separated by school. This amount can be supplemented and redistributed however the district so chooses. When comparing the three schools and their overall districts, Powell initially receives less Student Activities Money than Cody, but more money than Worland from the grant, but the audit and budget reports from Powell and Cody seem to suggest that the middle schools are spending a very similar amount on athletics and activities. The data provided shows that when our students at Powell Middle School are engaged in our activities and athletics they score higher academically, so with funding comparable to Cody and Worland, why are we not offering any combination of 1 or more athletics to 6th graders, specifically when they are low to no cost additions?
    It has been stated that the 6th grade year is a transitional year and can be rough on some students. The Association for Middle Level Education’s Position Statement regarding athletics states that 6th graders should be brought in with progressively phased in programs, such as you see in Cody and Worland. According to the AMLE, these programs help to bolster self-esteem and confidence while providing a positive transitional experience teaching one to participate with classmates through equitable competition, along with positive reinforcement through coaching and teamwork. The Powell Middle School Wrestling Program excels at these traits, I have witnessed my oldest son experiencing them first hand for the last two years. The AMLE also states that all students that are willing to make the commitment necessary should be allowed to participate in athletics while in middle school. When 12 middle schools were asked the question “Would you say for the transitional students from elementary to Middle School, sports has had a Positive, Negative, or Neutral effect on them with Regards to GPA, Social, Psychological, or any other Middle School transitional aspects” , 9 middle schools responded with a complete response, all stating that athletics had a positive effect on their 6th graders. Tim Foley stated that typically 6th graders who are not ready for athletics do not go out in Cody, they wait until 7th grade. By limiting our activities and athletics 6th graders are allowed to participate in, could we be holding back not only our students who are attempting to transition, but our students who have already made the transition?
    One way that school districts determine which activities and athletics they implement, is through an evaluation of schools within their conference and rec programs within their area. In our conference, every school has 6th grade wrestling, and a rec wrestling program. The PWC is the rec program in Powell. Years ago, the USA programs within the big horn basin had strong programs up through Middle School. Over time that has changed due to the middle school season, but all the clubs are very strong up through their 10 year olds. Our middle school conference wrestles in the spring, while many other conferences in the state wrestle in the fall. This past season, Worland Middle School had 51 wrestlers, Cody had 49, and Powell had 18. The Powell Middle School wrestling tournament was attended by all schools in the Big Horn Basin with an estimated 200 wrestlers. Two Months later, the Powell Wrestling Club held its tournament which was attended by all clubs within the big horn basin. There were 7 middle school wrestlers, the majority were Powell 6th graders. The USA folkstyle state tournament held in Casper in late April had 116 Middle School wrestlers attend from around the state, 8 of which were from the Big Horn Basin. Rec wrestling for middle school aged kids within the big horn basin is not an option anymore. Parents must have the money and time to travel great distances just to get matches for their kids in a sport they have enjoyed since they were 5 years old. It’s not uncommon for a family to travel over 4000 miles during the course of the 3-4 month season. Wrestling within the big horn basin has moved from the rec programs to the Middles schools with the exception of Powell.
    The data provided to you this evening in conjunction with the proposal and its supporting documents, shows that academics will not be hurt by athletics, but actually enhanced. Adding wrestling is a no cost addition because the program is already in place with equipment, facilities, coaching, and surrounded by a positive atmosphere. All of this data allows you to make a decision, not based on fear, feelings, or speculation of what might happen in the future, but based on data showing what is best for our kids today. Often times decisions made on emotions alone without incorporating facts are based on distorted reasoning. It has been stated that there is a fear that parents will ask for other sports if wrestling is approved and our numbers do not warrant a need for 6th grade additions. Cody and Worland’s numbers did not warrant the addition either, but it was in the best interest of their 6th graders as students and individuals to add athletics for them. The small informal survey done showed that 88% of the individuals polled would like to see individual athletics for their child in Middle School, and 72% of them have children who will be attending middle school in the future. I would ask, why each future sport requested would not be evaluated individually as wrestling has been done in this case, and just as other schools have done for their additions, by either parents, administrators or both. There is always fear of change, but with all the data provided, including 38 other schools already implementing a 6th grade athletic program, I respectfully request the addition of 6th graders into the sport of Wrestling at Powell Middle School in the 2013-2014 school year.

  • posted by Stacy

    May 30, 2013 5:15 pm

    Well, maybe we could offer our children more opportunities if we didn't have 3 Elementary schools in One little small town! We are paying x3 on everything and it is darn wasteful if you ask me! Poor planning that's for sure, but Powell School board sure does like to pay it out in salaries instead of programs that would benefit our children! Just think, 100 grand for 3 principals in a town the size of ours? Just the cost alone of running 3 schools? How much could we save and re-distribute for higher salaries and more programs for our children in all area's? Powell is wasteful, plain and simple!!!

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