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Members of the Cleburne High School Spanish Club fold hand towels destined for Puerto Rico and victims of Hurricane Maria.



Whether it’s participating in an academic club, a sport or volunteering for a organization, extracurricular activities can benefit students in many ways. 

A regular school day can keep any student busy, but when there is time for some fun Cleburne ISD officials encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities. 

Many parents are aware that extracurricular activities can help students improve their chances of gaining admission to college, but students who choose the right activity can benefit in many other ways other than simply strengthening their college applications.

Michael Williams, an assistant principal at Cleburne High School, said it’s very important for students to be involved in extracurricular activities.

“It allows students to get involved with a variety of students from various backgrounds and who bring experiences to the table that will expand each student’s ideas about the world around them,” Williams said. “These activities not only help students develop a skill or in athletics but also help our students to build social skills that require personal interaction and not just a text or Snap Chat. 

“Those social skills will help prepare them for life. In the process, we also hope they make life long friends that will be a support for them throughout their high school careers and beyond.”

In addition to the typical programs the high school offers like athletics, theater arts and band, he said they also offer many opportunities through their extended-school program, Jacket Academy. 

The program includes many Career & Technology Education activities and courses that students wouldn’t be able to take during the school day. These activities can include jewelry making, playing guitar, poetry, art and a variety of others.

“We also offer a number of clubs for students to provide them an opportunity to engage with students who have similar interests,” Williams said. “There are also a number of community events we have that are deeply rooted in the school culture such as the parade, bonfire and newly added STING Week that allows students to reach out in a good cause helping someone else. These are just a few examples.”

STING — Students Together in Giving — is a fundraising campaign the school participates in every year to raise money for those in need.

CHS Principal Le’Ann Downs said extracurricular activities help students improve communication skills, build tenacity and gain self-confidence.

“There are a variety of components to Jacket Academy such as interest-based workshops, tutorials, clubs, organizations, interventions and Media Center access for Wi-Fi and technology resources,” Downs said. “For students to participate, all they need to do is sign up for Jacket Academy via our CHS website or their Canvas account.

“Each year we offer different sessions with a variety of workshops for students to attend.  Currently, we are offering guitar, college essay writing, graphic novels, beading & jewelry making, fossils & dinosaurs, videography, card games and Reading for Fun. Students can also sign up for Jacket Academy transportation on our CHS website.”

Not only does Jacket Academy offer opportunities for students to extend their learning, she said, but it provides an opportunity for many of our teachers to mentor students while building positive relationships.   

CISD Community Relations Director Lisa Magers said extracurricular activities start at the elementary school level, with many campuses sponsoring art, drama, running clubs and student council.

“Opportunities expand at middle school and are at their peak at the high school,” Magers said. “The introduction of the Jacket Academy program includes after-hours bus transportation, giving many students the opportunity to be involved in clubs and organizations which often conduct meetings after school.”

The following tips are some ways parents can help their children choose extracurricular activities that could benefit them in years to come:

• Ask kids to jot down a list of their interests or anything they might want to try. Once kids have listed their interests, look for activities that allow them to further explore those interests. Chances are there is a school-sponsored or community-based club or organization that will align with at least one thing on your child’s list.

• Encourage kids to have fun. Kids are more likely to enjoy and fully commit to an activity if they find it fun. While extracurricular activities can help kids grow as people and improve their image in the eyes of college admissions officers, kids will get even more out of an activity if they enjoy doing it.

• Look for something that won’t interfere with schoolwork. Extracurricular activities can look great on a college application, but that benefit is lost if the activity interferes with a student’s academic performance. Some activities, including sports, demand more of students’ time than others, but make sure kids know that school always comes first. 

• Ask neighbors or school officials for recommendations to help kids who have tried but failed to find the right fit with regard to extracurricular activities. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error before a child finds an activity he or she is comfortable with. Fellow parents can make great resources, and school officials likely know of a host of clubs and organizations that kids may be interested in.

• Sign up with your kids. If kids are hesitant to sign up for an activity because they are shy, sign up with them. Volunteer organizations are typically family-friendly, and kids might be more likely to come out of their shells if they sign up with their parents or siblings. As kids grow more comfortable with an activity, they will want to get more involved even if mom and dad don’t have the time.

For more information about Jacket Academy, visit

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