By Alex Lippa
After one of its most successful sports seasons in recent memory, Haverhill High School will cut sports user fees by another 20 percent for the 2012-13 school year.
Superintendent James Scully and Athletic Director Tom O'Brien made the decision after the school saw a significant increase in student participation following another user fee cut at the start of the last school year.
"A lot of interest was ignited and maintained by the sports programs at Haverhill High School this year," said Scully. "When we cut down the fees, hundreds of more people tried out for the teams."
For the 2011-12 school year, the fee was $125, down from $275 the year below. Starting in September, the fee will be $100.
Haverhill High saw 968 participants in the school's athletics programs with the smaller fee, compared to 868 in 2010-11.
Scully said that he believes that lowering fees not only has attracted more students but has also made for a better environment around the programs.
"When you go to games now, you have much better parental attention," said Scully. "There are more families showing up to watch the games, and it has created a good culture."
In addition to seeing more athletes participating, Haverhill High also saw more wins. Hillie sports teams won 164 games, which up from just 129 the year before. The team also had 17 of 25 sports teams participate in post season play.
Another reason for the higher participation rate has been the growth of middle school programs. Scully said that the city hopes to double the number of participants in middle school sports by next year.
"A solid sports program is a no brainer," he said. "Through sports, people get the opportunity to be themselves. I've had kids come up to me and tell me that sports has helped keep them out of trouble."
Scully said he expects the decision to cut the fees again will bring out even more students out to try out for sports this year. After that, the administration will sit down and decide whether it can lower the fees again for 2013-14.
Scully said students should be recognized as well for what they have contributed to the athletic turnaround.
"They really have stepped up to the plate," said Scully. "The athletes' academic marks are outstanding and their attendance is spectacular. It's been a resurgence of energy."
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