As the 2010-2011 high school athletics and activities programs are coming to an end, the discussion of fiscal cutbacks is heating up.

As the 2010-2011 high school athletics and activities programs are coming to an end, the discussion of fiscal cutbacks is heating up.

I hosted the Class 1 state golf tournament and announced the Class 1 and 2 state track meet, and the primary topic of conversation by coaches and athletic directors was of cutbacks.

It made me reflect about the importance of these areas on the road to a well-rounded student. Generally, school boards and administrators will initially attack activities programs to get public attention for economic distress.

An article entitled “The Three A’s No School Should Ever Cut Out of the Budget,” written by Dr. John G. Metallo, makes clear that high school education goes way beyond academics. Those three A’s are arts, activities and athletics.

These three together often total less than 3 percent of the school budget. Obviously the most important A in education is academics, but without the other three, the high school experience is lacking.

Students often learn far more about leadership, enthusiasm and resilience through sports, band or choir than they do in the classroom. And you can bank on the fact that these qualities are way more likely to be arrived at through their extracurricular activities rather than sitting down at a test. All of the educational gurus and test givers use state and federal guidelines to predict the success of a student. I totally disagree. A good floor burn earned from diving for a loose ball in a basketball game or the excitement of playing a first band solo do far more for poise, confidence and courage than any written test.

Times are tough for school districts and the choices are difficult, but the total package still needs to be considered for developing a well-rounded and productive student. Life, just like sports, is not about the X’s and O’s – it’s about the Charlies and Joes.

• My philosophy has always been that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. The daughters of Jeff Handy, former Blue Springs and MU quarterback, traveled to Switzerland with Ronda’s Dance, Cheer and Tumbling Center. In the 11-16 Division for mixed pairs, Cole Francis and Mackenzie Handy received a gold medal. In the 12-19 Junior Elite class, trio Megan Muehlberger, Chloe Wait and Brooke Handy received a fourth place. The Ronda’s team’s showing in Belgium in the Women’s Pair 12-19 Division resulted in a fifth place from Kennedy Swanson and Mariah Cockshell. Congratulations to all.

• The St. Mary’s boys golf team represented the area small schools with a seventh-place finish in the state tournament. The Trojans team was a class act throughout the tournament.

• My quote of the week is from James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States: “The men who succeed best in public life are those who take the risk of standing by their own convictions.”