Juneau high school classes up for NCAA approval

Student athletes are avoiding courses in meantime, teacher says

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007

Two classes at Juneau-Douglas High School are being evaluated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to make sure they meet the rigor of courses required of student atheletes.

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Meanwhile, Juneau students with collegiate athletic aspirations are staying away from the classes until they are NCAA-approved, according to one teacher. One student-athlete dropped an unapproved class.

The classes, both new to the JDHS curriculum, are news production, taught through the English department; and current events, taught through the Social Studies department.

In November, the director of the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse sent a letter to the registrars office at JDHS seeking descriptions of the courses, along with syllabuses, copies of the table of contents from course textbooks and other items.

Bernie Sorenson, principal of JDHS, said the application process isn't uncommon.

"It happens all the time, it's happened at a JDHS in previous years," she said, adding that she forgot to send in the evaluation documents.

Assistant Principal Dale Staley agreed, "We neglected to think about the NCAA when we designed the course."

In order to qualify to play sports at the college level, incoming freshman must have a certain number of "core courses," said Jennifer Kearns, spokeswoman for the NCAA.

"It's a minimum standard of classes to be considered as a college athlete," Kearns said.

The NCAA requires 29 core courses, including four English classes, three math classes, two sciences, two social studies classes and five elective classes. Students who don't meet the qualification can enroll in high school for another term, but aren't allowed to makeup the class in summer school.

"Students can't do summer school after the senior year, and if they repeat a term or academic year, they can't enroll until the following fall," Kearns said.

Steve Potter and Lesslie Knight, the boys' and girls' basketball coaches, said they were unaware of any students at JDHS being denied eligibility because of the courses.

School administrators said they are confident the classes would be approved, but even if they aren't, they would still remain in the curriculum. In the meantime, student-athletes who want to take the class are being advised about the situation.

"The course is a legitimate course being taught by a qualified teacher," Staley said.

Shanna Galluzzo, who teaches current events, said she is proud of her class. She has taken a laundry list of influential issues and teaches her students the history behind the headlines. Her emphasis is on international politics.

"They get American government and American history, but we're so global now," she said. "We want to make it more a world view of things."

• Will Morris may be contacted at william.morris@juneauempire.com.



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