Early release leading to academic unsettlement for student athletes


(Naomi Lenchner)

By Kelsey Cook

Tamalpais High School administration preaches academics over athletics. There are rules in place that students must maintain a certain GPA and attend a satisfactory amount of classes in order to participate in school sports, but students are consistently having to leave their fourth or seventh period early during their sports season, which undermines this idea. 

Do academics really come first, then? Tam has been allowing early release for years, partially because the school doesn’t have lights bright enough for night games due to nearby resident preferences. 

“Early release can become really stressful for students depending on which period you miss, usually fourth or seventh,” varsity soccer player and junior at Tam, Julia Costle, said. Costle expressed how she missed almost all of her seventh period during her soccer season and had to put in a lot of extra work to stay caught up, which became difficult. 

“Some teachers are not accommodating, so they don’t give extensions for the time you’re out of class. Your teachers think school is the priority and coaches think sports are, so it’s hard to balance both,” Costle said. 

Nowhere under athletic clearance or signups does it inform students and families that students will have to leave class early anywhere from 12 to 3 p.m., causing students to miss one or even two full class periods on any given day.

“I do like early release, but there is that huge set back where you’re behind in your classes and have to do extra work as well as having to watch the lecture again which gets tiring,” varsity baseball player and junior at Tam, Ryder Covey, said.

 Covey wishes the school would let Tam athletes choose the period they miss. 

“I would rather miss an elective over chemistry and math because those are really hard classes to stay caught up with,” he said. 

Last year, when Covey was missing his fourth period English class, he said he had a C most of the season. 

The school attempted to fix things by putting tutorial at the end of the day to let athletes leave without missing class during the 2021-2022 school year, but it caused a large number of students to skip Tutorial. The result was the school moving tutorial to be between fifth and sixth period again. Now, on Wednesdays and Fridays, early release is as early as 12:50 p.m. and students miss the entirety of their seventh period class.

“It adds a little more work, but it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s good that the kids are playing sports, it makes them happy,” Tam history teacher Jon Hartquist said. He believes if there was a way the school could set up a schedule so students don’t miss the same class every time and have a rotation it could help. 

“Despite early release, kids are pretty good at making their work up. In the grand scheme of things to worry about, this isn’t one for me,” Hartquist continued.

Early release and missing multiple classes every week can cause additional stress to an already fairly overwhelmed student body. The school needs to start accommodating student preferences and making students aware of the setback they may have in advance.