Over the last many months, Dr. James J. Lavender, Superintendent of Schools, has initiated a process to consider the inclusion of performing arts students to be awarded varsity letters, a distinction once reserved for varsity athletes and marching band members. Others at the school who were an integral part of this change are Craig Stephenson, Principal; Jon Dalton, Musical Director; June Cioffi, Athletic Director and Lauren Kerr, Assistant Principal.
Under the new Kingsway practice, in order to receive a letter, each of the Performing Arts students must meet certain requirements that are listed in the Student Handbook.
It all began with an email to the superintendent on a warm day in June from a concerned parent, Ceri Galati, to get the conversation going. “I receive a lot of emails and particularly enjoy the emails that include a solution,” said Superintendent, Dr. James J. Lavender. “Mrs. Galati quickly pointed out a long-standing exclusionary practice in how we awarded varsity letters. A little research then ensued and all of a sudden how we award varsity letters for some students is completely overhauled. Now the many hard-working and talented students involved in our performing arts programs have the benefit of earning a varsity letter.”
Wikipedia states that a letter jacket is a jacket traditionally worn by high school and college students in the United States to represent school and team pride as well as to display personal awards earned in athletics, academics or activities. Letter jackets are also known as “varsity jackets” and “baseball jackets” in reference to their American origins.
In recent years, some progressive and proactive schools have expanded the concept of letterman to outside of sports. Many schools have made this change to reflect putting emphasis on those students who are athletes, and have included the performing arts students.
This has been a hot topic in high schools for quite a few years. Earning a varsity letter is a defining moment in any high school student’s career.
Whether the student is the star of the varsity football team or the lead in the musical, a varsity letter is confirmation of great achievement. More importantly, with this change, it recognizes that students who may not be athletic, but are still contributing to the school’s achievements, are awarded.
A varsity letter should be awarded to a student who demonstrates excellence in certain school activities. Participation in the theater, music, and the arts is equally as important as a participation in a sport. Awarding a varsity letter in the arts demonstrates that Kingsway is equally committed to the importance of arts as well as athletics.
Kingsway Regional High School’s motto is “Committed to Excellence”, and awarding a varsity letter to those committed to the school through the arts shows their excellence.