This week our students are busy preparing for the end of the second trimester and their final exams. There is a reason why we use the term student-athlete at Park - we stress that academics come first.

Students are not allowed to participate in our activities unless they meet the district's scholastic eligibility requirements. The MSHSL requires that students must be on course to graduate in order to participate.

The district has a school board policy detailing the exact number of credits needed to be on course to graduate. When students are not quite on course to graduate, many times we will place them on academic probation.

I then keep a close eye on their grades and give them reminders throughout the trimester about keeping their grades up. Our coaching staff does a great job monitoring grades and assisting students with their studies. Students who participate in athletics have to learn to balance their time wisely to make sure there is always time for homework.

Our winter athletes often sit through multiple games in one night, especially when they are on the road. Many times you can see a Park student in the bleachers doing homework or studying for a test or quiz.

When I go to visit the elementary schools for Lunch with the Wolfpack each week, I always stress even to the youngest of kids that academics comes first, and that students must perform in the classroom before they can perform on the field. Besides their on-field successes, our students continue to excel in the classroom.

Last year we had a record eleven teams that received awards from the state coaches association for their academic excellence: girls tennis, boys and girls cross country, girls swim and dive, girls soccer, girls hockey, girls basketball, gymnastics, boys tennis, softball, and girls track and field. We also had 22 students named Academic All-State, which is amazing.

All of our coaches do a great job stressing the importance of academics. They know that school comes first for all of our student-athletes. I am proud to say that at Park we have some of the finest student-athletes around.

I know we place the pictures of our all-state athletes in the main hallway at Park, but I am equally (if not more) proud of these students and teams that receive academic honors.