Academy Field Trips Cause Scheduling Issues for Student Athletes

Kylie Baber-Gonzalez and Evan Myers

The academy model was implemented at Austin High to help create communities among students; however, it has caused issues for some student-athletes, including scheduling conflicts and missed games due to academy field trips. Not all coaches and admin agree on whether or not the academy model is at the root of the problem.

“​Schedule conflicts occur, especially on large high school campuses with diverse course options, so it’s hard to say whether the academy program has an impact,” Principal Amy Taylor said. “Sometimes it does, other times, it doesn’t.”

The academy core teachers and the assistant principal for that academy meet once a week during conference periods to discuss lesson plans, coordinate on what they’re teaching, and plan field trips. Coaches are not involved in these meetings directly, unless they teach a core class in that academy.

“There are also a few student-athletes who are not able to get in double-blocked athletics because of the academies,” head coach Mike Rosenthal said.

Although double-blocking issues were resolved, planning academy field trips around sports is still an issue waiting to be tackled. Coach Brown thinks a possible solution would be to plan the trips over school holidays like some other schools with overnight trips; however, this would take time away from the teachers’ and students’ vacations and it’s not always the cheapest option.

“Teachers and chaperones don’t want to give up their breaks, which is understandable, but we’re Austin High,” Brown said. “We can raise a little more money [to take trips during holidays]. It’s not acceptable to me that these players are missing games.”

Last season, varsity baseball’s starting pitcher, Drew Linseisen, missed a third of the season due to the annual AGS Thailand trip.

“I didn’t find out there were field trips until the students were on them because [students] were scared to tell me. [They] didn’t want to be punished for leaving, but it’s not the kid’s fault, it’s the adults scheduling these trips,” baseball coach Billy Brown said.

Brown’s varsity team had only one junior and one senior in an academy last year, but starting next year all students will be in one of the four academies. Students do have the choice to stay home from academy trips, but there must be a documented conflict on file with the counselor for the academy, and an alternate assignment is given.

“We can’t make kids choose between academics and athletics and I don’t want to” Brown said. “It’s gonna get worse until we can’t compete with other schools that don’t [have academies].”

Both Brown and Rosenthal agree that the academies are the number one priority of the school right now, and this is the direction that the school is going.

“Over time, TEA Accountability has improved,” Taylor said. “This year we received an A. Discipline has decreased, enrollment has increased, and parent survey data has increased. Overall, the academy model has been a success story for our school.”