There is nothing but good news that came out of a recent Oregon School Acitivities Association report that showed that every McNary High School winter sports team carried an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.

The varsity boys basketball team ranked first statewide in the 6A classification with an average 3.63 grade point average. The girls varsity basketball team scored an average 3.69 GPA which placed them in sixth statewide.

Rightfully so, McNary principal John Honey is proud of the achievement, saying that it was only the second time in his 30-year education career he had seen such numbers.

Other winter sports that scored high were the boys and girls swimming teams which both averaged a 3.41 GPA. The wrestling team had a 3.0 average.

A 3.0 grade point average is equivilent to a middle B; 3.69 GPA equals an A. These are not insignificant scores. They show that the Celtic Way of teaching and coaching has the desired effect.

Extracurricular activities not only round out a student’s high school resume they also lead to better learning in the classroom.

As we know it is not only sports teams that achieve higher than average GPAs, the fine arts is also home to hundreds of scholastic stars. As McNary High School Choir Director Jim Taylor never tires of boasting, a vast majority of his singers carry high grades and most have plans for college after high school. In recent years choir members have collectively received millions of dollars of scholarships. That story carries over to the other fine arts, too.

Participating in school sports or being part of an arts program is not a right, it’s a priviledge that only comes if the student maintains expected grades. For members of sports teams, their grades and attendance are checked throughout the year. As Ron Richards, McNary’s athletic director states, students who struggle are given a plan to help them progress to reach desired levels.

The academic achievement of athletes and art students at McNary should be gleaned for tools that can be used for those students who participate in neither sports nor the arts. Good grades shouldn’t be the sole provenance of those who are able to throw a ball or sing. Society wants to see every child graduate from high school and go on to college; unfortunately, that’s not going to happen for every child. Some students barely get through high school.

The McNary High School administration, the staff, the teachers and the coaches are to be congratulated and recognized for keeping the school’s main focus of education in the forefront. They have shown there doesn’t have to be a choice between academic excellence or championships—we should always celebrate the achievements of our Keizer kids. We should also acknowledge that not every student will be an athlete or an artist. Every student should be given the encouragement and support they need to succeed, regardless of what they do.