Yes, Mandatory Afternoon Activities Are Important

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Most everyone, at some point in their Groton career, has wished that they were not required to participate in an afternoon activity. Sometimes there is nothing worse than the feeling of trudging to a sports field or the Performing Arts Center to practice something that you are not passionate about. For the lower schoolers, there isn’t even an escape via conditioning or Faculty-Sponsored Activities, and participation in theater or athletics is mandatory. I, however, think that this policy is extremely beneficial to the well-being of not only the School and its programs, but also to each student on an individual level.


First of all, mandatory afternoon activities push many of us to step outside of our comfort zones. Groton is, in every aspect, a place of very high intensity. We all push ourselves academically, but simply working hard in the classroom is not enough. The School is here to instill more in us than solely academic grit. Arts and athletics are equally important in becoming a well-rounded individual.


What I believe to be the most important part of mandatory afternoon activities is the fact that they push each and every person beyond their own social spheres. We are always busy, and it’s easiest to just lock oneself away either alone or with the same people every day; afternoon activities, though, are essentially a mandatory social period. They push you not only to see people that you might not regularly associate with, but also to work together and create a team dynamic with them, regardless of what field or stage you play or perform on.


Additionally, the mandatory afternoon activities policy is crucial for the departments that host the activities. There is no doubt in my mind that, if Groton were to allow students to opt-out of afternoon activities, a large portion of Groton students would keep the afternoons in at least one of their terms open. For the Athletics and Theater Departments, this would be devastating. In athletics, Groton is much smaller of a school than most. Many teams struggle to get enough players even with the mandatory-activity policy. If we weren’t required to be involved, I believe that the lower-level teams would fall apart, and some of the bigger teams, like football, would more likely than not be unable to field a team in the first place. Sports are one of the main ways that schools stay involved with each other, and to permit conditions under which sports teams might fall apart would be detrimental to Groton’s relationship with other institutions.


On both a personal and institutional level, afternoon activities are incredibly important. They push us physically, mentally, and creatively, and, through exposing us to experiences that we might not otherwise pursue, diversify our characters and better prepare us for the world beyond Groton. At times, the policy can definitely feel rather unnecessary, but the fact is that it gives structure to our lives here and provides a platform for being involved with the community. I would like to suggest that, the next time you think about how awful and inhumane it is that you have a whole hour and a half of your afternoon taken up, remember how important it is that we have these experiences. Participation in afternoon activities is of paramount importance to the sense of community that Groton works so hard to create, and all that the policy does is ensure that we are all able to reap such benefits.