Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 28, 2012

New rules proposed for Andover High sports teams

By Judy Wakefield
and Dustin Luca Staff Writers

Andover school leaders are considering changes to sports at Andover High, including banning freshmen from playing on varsity teams if a junior varsity team exisits.

Other proposed revisions affect hazing punishments for leaders and bystanders, following the alleged hazing involving members of the basketball program last year. The school department is also considering stopping all team practices on Sundays.

Cheerleading tryouts for Andover High School's fall squads were held recently, but there will be no rosters posted until after Friday's (June 29) School Committee meeting. That's because proposed student handbook revisions for the next school year are expected to be discussed June 29.

The idea is opposed by parents of some freshmen.

"She can go to a bathroom with 11th and 12th-graders, but she can't make a varsity cheerleading team because she is a freshman?" Jaynie Kobelski said of her daughter, who tried out for the varsity cheerleading squad at AHS. "I don't think parents know about these revisions and they should."

All proposed student handbook revisions are on the school department's website, A memo from Superintendent Marinel McGrath to AHS Principal Tom Sharkey - dated June 14 - highlights the revisions.

Paula Colby-Clements, School Committee chairwoman, said the committee has only heard a presentation on the changes so far. As it stands, it "may be the will of the School Committee to table [these specific changes]," in effect moving a decision on the changes down the road until more information can be gathered or changes can be made.

"My initial read is they [the School Committee members[ have a lot of questions," said Colby-Clements.

McGrath writes that the Andover High School Council and administration met five times during the last school year to discuss handbook revisions. She also writes that a revised student handbook approved by the School Committee will be posted online and a public hearing will be held.

"I think the revisions have a lot of holes. Parents need to know," Kobelski said.

For more on this story, see next week's Townsman.