FHSD Fosters Leadership Through Sports – FHSD High School’s named MSHSAA Leadership Schools

Posted on 08/19/2016

All three Francis Howell School District (FHSD) high school athletic programs were recently named “Leadership Schools” by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA), the governing body of high school sports in the state. It’s an award created to honor sportsmanship and leadership in school. And if it’s something that FHSD sports has been known to exhibit, it is sportsmanship. At all of these FHSD high schools, coaches, parents, and students aren’t just coming together to win championships, they are also working to create a better community through sportsmanship.

Francis Howell Central High School (FHC) has earned this honor six years in a row, and was also named a “5-Star Leadership School” for the sixth consecutive year by MSHSAA. FHC Activities Director Scott Harris said, “I believe it is a focused effort by our coaches, directors, sponsors, players, parents, and fans, to make sure we are ‘competing with class’ at all times and supporting our student-athletes the right way.”

It’s not just at FHC, though. All three high school sports/activities programs strive hard to promote leadership. Activities Director at Francis Howell High School (FHHS), Sean Erwin, said, “At Francis Howell, our coaches and sponsors put an emphasis on not only developing student-participants in their activity or sport, but also developing them as young men and women to be successful in life after high school. Through our R.I.S.E. (Respect, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Excellence) core values and Viking Leadership Academy our student-participants are actively engaged in building leadership capacity and strive to display it both in and out of their activities.”

At Francis Howell North, Activities Director Mike Janes said, “Our kids are displaying leadership every day. We have an Activities Leadership Council that developed a program purpose statement, and that reads, ‘Francis Howell North strives to develop student leaders both academically and athletically. The Activities Leadership Council will promote FHN activities with core values to enhance the vision of our programs. We have “Core Values”, which we call “S.H.I.E.L.D” – Sportsmanship, Honesty, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, and Determination. And new football coach Brett Bevill has introduced “Above the Line” character initiatives. The football players signed a 20-foot pipe that includes the words “ABOVE THE LINE.” Every practice and game, players will step over the pipe to make a conscious decision on their character and attitude. Their upcoming opponent is painted on the opposite end. With a Knight win, the opponent part of the pipe gets cut off. And the character aspect of it is transcending into the classroom. All three schools are displaying character initiatives that helped them attain MSHSAA Leadership Status.”

You have to experience a game in FHSD for yourself to truly understand the tremendous atmosphere. There is definitely a positive vibe circulating throughout the stadium/arena due to the mutual respect and good citizenship promoted at each event. “We want to respect our opponents and the game,” Harris said, “and represent our school and the District with class at all times. We don’t allow taunting of opponents, disrespectful cheers, or singling out of an opposing team’s player. And our students and student leaders know this is our expectation, and it is now their expectation as well. We encourage and expect our fans to cheer and support our team, and not to put down, insult, or cheer against an opponent.”

FHSD teams desire to win, as evidenced by the many state championships, including those won by Francis Howell High School baseball and boys’ soccer this past school year. But there is an underlying goal for the sports programs beyond winning. “Our goal,” Harris emphasized, “is to win and be the best we can be. Our mission, as a part of ‘Education Based Athletics and Activities,’ is to provide life lessons through these sports and activities that cannot be learned inside the classroom walls.”

With that blueprint in place, FHSD athletic programs will continue to build a District sports program full of not just winners, but community leaders and good citizens as well. “We understand the value and importance of extracurricular programs,” Harris said, “and being attached at school. Over 71 percent of our students were involved in a sport, club, or activity (at FHC), and these go so far into enhancing the high school experience, reaching the ‘whole child,’ and providing so many important life lessons.”

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