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Bed-Stuy High School Enacts Radical New Student Athletic Policy

The new guideline at Boys & Girls High School puts greater emphasis on scholarship and civic responsibility

Only three weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 academic school year, and Bernard Gassaway, principal of Boys and Girls High School, is making it clear: He's not playing.

And if the student athletes at BGHS are unable to adhere to Gassaway's new rules this year, they won't be playing either—on a sports team, that is.

This year, Gassaway is introducing the Scholar Athletic Policy, a radical new guideline for student athletes that puts greater emphasis on scholarship, academic performance and civic responsibility.

Under the new policy, all athletes must do at least 30 hours of community service, pass their first-period class (to reduce late arrivals), adhere to a strict dress code and maintain higher academic standards before they can play on a sports team. Gassaway is hoping the new policy will begin to change the culture of athletics at Boys and Girls High School.

"We emphasize scholarship, because of the implication of higher expectations," Gassaway told Bed-Stuy Patch. "We cannot be successful on the court without being successful in the classroom."

Among the academic requirements in the policy is a stipulation that seniors pass all classes each marking period and keep a GPA of 70 percent or better. Sophomore scholar-athletes must pass at least two Regents exams prior to the beginning of their season, while junior scholar-athletes must have passed four Regents exams.

Students who do not adhere to the new policy will not be able to participate in any athletic sports.

"This policy is as much for coaches and parents as it is for students," he said. "Unfortunately, too many children are raised to chase the dream of a career in professional sports. We want coaches to remember that student achievement is paramount."

Gassaway's new policy is inspired by the achievements of the school's 2011 valedictorian and salutatorian, both of whom were scholars and star athletes. One received a full scholarship to the University of Michigan and the other, to Wheaton College.

Gassaway said. “Students will develop greater character, scholarship and value for community. It is our goal to establish a legacy of Boys and Girls High School as an institution that produces scholar athletes.”

mslcjohnsonbghs August 22, 2011 at 02:52 PM
It's about time. There's great potential in the students we receive at BGHS. But, they discipline themselves. They need to pursue and education versus pursuing a diploma. Don't settle for a 65. As a matter of fact, a grade of 70 is not high enough. If they can do better, then they should. That is, take good class notes, go home and study, engage in constructive discussion in their classes. Make getting an education their goal. The diploma will come. They can do much, much better if they would only try. They need to start believing in themselves. As a teacher at "The High" for all of 25 years, I've seen them come and go. I cannot believe for them. They must believe in themselves and for themselves. We have to find a way of tapping in.
Joe Goode November 08, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I strongly disagree with the some of the restrictions in these guidelines. Primarily "Sophomore scholar-athletes must pass at least two Regents exams prior to the beginning of their season, while junior scholar-athletes must have passed four Regents exams." Let's see how this affects athletic success in the school. I can easily see a top athlete going elsewhere because of these rules. The passing rate of some regents at B&Gs are below 50%. I hate to break it to all of you "education is paramount" people. Many successful Black Americans were former high school athletes that did not have such restrictive rules. Would Michael Jordan pass 4 regents exams? How about Lebron James?
M Davis November 09, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Joe: I think the root of poor academic performance at Boys & Girls HS and many other public schools is the lack of a challenging cirriculum in grade school. Which leads me to believe that too many public school students are getting shortchanged on the quanity and quality regarding their instruction in the early grades. And I blame our out of touch politicians, uninvolved so-called parents, too many holidays, and not enough quality teaching for the predictable high academic failure rate of many students. I have noticed over the years that children who attend Catholic and Jewish schools are in class on many of the contrived holidays receiving quality instruction while most public school kids are goofing off and failing to prepare for the academic testing to come. Meanwhile - politicians, educators, parents and others wonder why Tom and Betty can't pass tests of any sorts?! My solution: Eliminate winter and spring brakes, and the various religious days off. Increase academic instruction by at least one hour per day. I see too many school kids walking home at 1pm. In my day class ended at 3:30pm. I understand there are union issues in play with some of my ideas. But in order to improve the quality of education in the public schools the current model must be changed radically.
M Davis November 09, 2011 at 02:54 AM
In closing, I suggest HS kids start studying financial literacy, careers, building wealth, investing options, mutual funds, real estate, wellness of mind and body. With regards to athletes who aspire to be pro basketball or football players the odds are 99.8% against you making the cut in the NBA or NFL.
Imani November 09, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Actually, LeBron was a scholar athlete, so he might just pass those requirements, I don't know much about Jordan. But more importantly, 99.9% of our children won't ever be like Mike or LeBron, so encouraging them to be successful scholars is not a bad thing.

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