CCHS Speech and Debate Team – The Cherry Creek High School Speech and Debate Team members celebrate some of the awards they earned in 2015.
SUBMITTED BY CHERRY CREEK SCHOOLS
“If I could go back, I would do more.”
That’s what 2015 Eaglecrest High School graduate Jordyn Polter says about her time in Cherry Creek Schools where she was a very involved student athlete. At Thunder Ridge Middle School, she ran track, played volleyball and was a member of the Triathlon Club and the Spanish Club. At Eaglecrest, she was a member of Key Club and led the Raptor volleyball team to four, top-eight state finishes, accumulating state and national honors along the way.
Poulter also played club volleyball from third grade on, has played on U.S. Youth and Junior National teams and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Illinois where she is a starter for the “Fighting Illini” women’s volleyball team. She and her parents attribute much of her success to her involvement in extracurricular and school-sponsored sports and activities.
CCHS Boys Lacrosse – The Cherry Creek High School Boys Lacrosse Team captured the 2015 5A State Championship.
“She learned time management, teamwork, responsibility and leadership,” said Poulter’s father, Robert Poulter. “All of these are important life lessons that she now uses in college and will carry beyond school.”
“How to manage being on a team, working together, making friends… Knowing how to be a leader and how to interact and bring the best out of my teammates,” added Jordyn Poulter, who encourages younger students to participate in as many sports and activities as they can.
“If you’re not involved, get involved,” Poulter said. “You won’t regret it.”
Volleyball is one of 22 sports, sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association and offered at the high school level in Cherry Creek Schools. (Skiing is the only CHSAA-sanctioned sport the district does not offer.) The district has a remarkable record of athletic success: CCSD student athletes have earned nearly 200 team and 300 individual state championships in the past 15 years. They have a one-in-four chance of placing first, second or both in all sports each season.
As members of the CCHS Speech and Debate Team, Chris Zeng, left, and Connor Sendel, were both four-time national qualifiers, which is a rare accomplishment.
“The Cherry Creek Schools tradition of excellence extends from academics to athletics and activities,” said Larry Bull, director of Athletics and Activities for Cherry Creek Schools. “We are committed to offering our students outstanding opportunities to participate in sports and clubs where they can build strong relationships with other students and adults, develop existing skills and discover new talents, and build self-confidence and life skills that will support their success later in life.”
Cherry Creek Schools also offers four middle school sports; basketball, volleyball, track and field and wrestling. At the middle school level, the emphasis is on fun and participation; there are no try-outs or cuts. Everyone can play.
Connor Sendel, a 2015 graduate of Cherry Creek High School, played four years of tennis, two on the varsity tennis team. But he found his true passion as a member of the school’s nationally-recognized Speech and Debate Team. During his four years on the team, Sendel accrued the most National Speech and Debate Association points in the school’s history. He says the experience he gained there has helped him in every aspect of his life.
“Debate taught me to quickly organize my thoughts and what I want to say, allowing me to greatly improve my communication skills, especially when speaking off the cuff,” Sendel said. “This helped me in college interviews of course, but also helps me with presentations and just on a day-to-day basis.”
Eaglecrest High School graduate Jordyn Poulter is a setter for the University of Illinois “Fighting Illini” Women’s Volleyball Team and played on both the U.S. Youth and Junior National Volleyball teams.
Smokey Hill High School Cheer and Pom – Cheer and Pom are sports sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Sendel is now a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania where he was accepted into the competitive Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology. He is pursuing a dual degree in mechanical engineering and management of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Scott Cohen, assistant principal, activities director and swim coach at Smoky Hill High School isn’t at all surprised by the success of students who are involved in activities and athletics.
“When students are involved in a club or sport, they develop stronger and more positive connections to their school, make friends, build positive relationships with adults and work together to better our community,” Cohen said. “Activities and athletics foster the learning of team work, time management, commitment, goal setting and leadership. Ultimately, activities and athletics are a wonderful place for students to gain a sense of pride in their school and confidence in themselves.”
Research supports that assessment. Studies show that students who participate in activities and athletics have fewer absences, get better grades and are more likely to earn a college degree than students who aren’t involved. They are also highly sought after by potential employers.
In the Cherry Creek School District, between 60 and 75% of high school students and 80 to 85% of middle school students participate in one or more sport or activity. Athletics and activities are also offered at the elementary level.
CCHS 2016 Musical – A scene from Cherry Creek High School’s 2016 production of ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’.
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