Jocks aren’t the only ones who get letters

Published 8:56 am Monday, April 20, 2009

Letter jackets aren’t just for sports recognition, as Albert Lea students can earn academic letters to recognize their achievements in the classroom.

Albert Lea High School started offering academic letters during the 2000-2001 school year. Jennifer Zoller, student services secretary, said it’s a way for students who don’t participate in sports to be recognized.

“It is something that would probably be recognized by your college,” Zoller said. “If it’s something you want to achieve, it’s a good motivator to keep up your GPA.”

Email newsletter signup

Specific students aren’t notified; it’s their responsibility to see if they earned an academic letter and then fill out the paperwork to pick it up. But students are told about the opportunity through announcements.

Students earn an academic letter based on their cumulative grade-point average. They can see if they qualify and pick up the letter after the first semester.

“It’s a nice way for people who aren’t in a sport to letter, because it’s the big thing in the school to get a letterman’s jacket,” said senior Jessica Malepsy, who’s also lettered in soccer, track and choir along with an academic letter.

Freshmen with a GPA of 4.0 are eligible for the academic letter. Since it’s cumulative, it lowers to 3.9 for sophomores, 3.8 for juniors and 3.7 for seniors.

“The older you get, it gets a little bit lower, but because your classes get harder,” said freshman Morgan Ciota, who received a letter for dance team before receiving an academic letter.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean all students see their GPA lower after their freshman year.

“Most of us who care about filling this out still get a 3.9 or 4.0 GPA,” Malepsy said.

Malepsy said many students don’t fill out the paperwork to receive the academic letter until after they’ve lettered in something else.

“I got the jacket right away, and I thought it was an honor, because all the colleges, they take into consideration what you’re doing outside of school, but your grades come first. To me, it’s like I’m in three sports, but my grades come first,” Malepsy said.

Zoller added that students need good grades to play sports, so the two go hand-in-hand. She said earning letters in both shows reflects a student’s ability to manage his or her time, and that’s necessary to balance school and extracurricular activities.

“It shows that you try to get good grades,” said sophomore Bethany Sekora, who lettered in academics and volleyball.

Malepsy said academic letters often lead to something that is more important to her: graduating with honors.