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Another eight students request varsity advancement

Another eight middle-schoolers have asked to be pushed up to varsity teams.

The trial of formally allowing seventh- and eighth-graders to accelerate to varsity teams is running smoothly, the district activities directors reported at a Brainerd School Board Curriculum Committee meeting Thursday.

Three boy swimmers spent their recent season on the varsity team, and all three said it was a positive “experience and felt it was good for them,” said Charlie Campbell, high school activities director.

The formal policy allowing middle school students to play sports at varsity level was adopted in June.

Historically, seventh- and eighth-graders have been able to accelerate to varsity teams but the policy was outdated and not specific about when and why a student could advance.

When the school board first discussed the policy last year, it received mixed reviews. Some members said no student should be allowed to advance and others said if they are allowed, it should be on a very limited basis, such as to fill a roster.

Ultimately, the move passed.

The success is thanks to more conversations between coaches, parents and district staff, Campbell said.

“It forces coaches to have conversations,” he said. “It allows us as high school staff to have a dialogue before any process starts.”

Of the current eight students requesting to be moved to varsity level, five are boy golfers, one is in girl’s track and field, and two are in softball.

Winter sport participation levels in general are still increasing at Forestview, said middle school activities director Derek Hendrickson.

There’s been a 50 percent increase over than last four years, or 144 students. This year, there were 430 participants.

“Our ultimate goal is to maintain those high numbers,” Hendrickson said.

Committee Chair Ruth Nelson said she was impressed with the high numbers.

At the high school, participation levels have stayed consistent, Campbell said.

There were 335 students in this year’s winter sports, compared to 330 four years ago.

The committee also noted that it will soon need to address the issue of activity fees for students. For several years, Warrior Way funds have helped pay for athletic participation fees. That fund will dry up after next year.

Campbell agreed, adding that “the biggest question is what to do when Warrior Way fund runs out. How do we fund it?”

In other committee news:

The committee approved the following calendar modifications, with the vote going before the full school board for final approval:

• Retain April 2 as an early out day.

• Several minor modifications to the 2014-15 calendar, including: Add June 4 and 5 as potential snow make-up days (if they are needed).

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at