Finance at SAS 903: The new Eagle Activities and Athletics program

Acting, cooking, rugby, debating, recycling—SAS students of all ages have an impressive array of extracurricular activities available when school lets out. Our new Eagle Activities and Athletics program is responsible for many of these choices, and we take this opportunity to explain what it is and how it fits into our overall extracurricular program for students in all divisions.

History of extracurriculars at SAS

Our rich co-curricular and extracurricular program, which includes arts, athletics, clubs, community service, and academic extension activities, is the result of years of development on the part of our faculty, coaches, and community. Over time, several models of program delivery have emerged:

  • tuition-supported after-school sports and activities programs for middle school and high school students were developed over several decades
  • a pay-to-participate program for elementary students was created in 2004; it was first called Elementary After School Activities (EASA) and then Elementary Activities and Athletics (EAA)
  • a pay-to-participate community activities program was provided by the Singapore American Community Action Council (SACAC) from 1973 to 2015; the school's Community Sports and Activities office (CSA) then took over most SACAC options, keeping them pay-to-participate

These programs resulted in a multitude of fun, interesting, and rewarding options for students, but also led to some confusion about the purpose, philosophy, and pricing of our extracurricular programs. It became apparent that it was time to reconsider how best to provide varied and rewarding after-school choices while working toward a more coherent and rational overall program. Discussions and reviews included students, parents, teachers, administrators, and external consultants. Out of this process, SAS developed a plan to make our extracurricular offerings more logical, consistent, fair, and age-appropriate.

Creating the Eagle Activities and Athletics program

In order to better manage our many pay-to-participate extracurricular options, we have combined the former EAA and CSA programs into one schoolwide program called Eagle Activities and Athletics. This program, housed in its centrally located office beside the PTA, is intended to coordinate and streamline our fee-based programs. We have also partnered with the registration platform CHQ to make signup and payment more efficient and fair, especially by discontinuing the first-come, first-served approach used previously that led to much parent stress.

Parents often ask why some offerings are pay-to-participate, while others are included in tuition and fees. For elementary school activities, historically we charged per activity and per trimester, and the elementary budget has never included after-school programs (note that tuition and fees are lower in this division). Younger students require more targeted instruction and extra supervision, so fees allow us to maintain appropriate staffing levels, including instructional assistants to help children reach their activities and buses safely. Finally, fees ensure that students and parents commit to each chosen class, resulting in a positive group experience for everyone. Elementary school activity fees have been lowered and made more consistent in recent years, though they still vary based on staffing and resource needs.

Our middle school and high school extracurricular programs, in contrast, have been largely included in divisional budgets for decades. Non-selective activities do not limit group size and often run on a "drop-in" model with no commitment necessary. Almost all extracurriculars in these divisions are coached or sponsored by teachers, which keeps costs down. Externally coached activities for older students are offered through the Eagle Activities and Athletics program. Fees for these options vary depending on staffing, equipment, and facilities needs, with the focus on professionalism, convenience, and value for money. Some Eagle Activities and Athletics programs are also open to non-SAS students.

Prioritizing our offerings: Eagle Pathway and more

As a result of our review, we decided that with limited space, time, and instructors, we needed to clarify how we prioritize program offerings. Certain options were therefore designated "Eagle Pathway" activities. These include sports and activities that correspond to high school IASAS activities and that are part of our curricula, such as art, dance, drama, music, debate, Model United Nations, and certain sports. Eagle Pathway activities would take precedence in facilities and staffing. Other activities important to a well-rounded suite of offerings would also remain available, taught by teachers, independent coaches, or sports academies.

To clarify the philosophy underpinning our athletic program, we adopted the internationally recognized Long-Term Athlete Development Model, which aims to promote healthy, balanced, and enjoyable youth participation in sports. In elementary school, children are encouraged to try new things, play for fun, and develop age-appropriate skills; no tryout-based teams are offered. Middle school students may choose to participate in intramural and club sports or try out for SAS representative (selective) teams, which play against other schools. High school also offers both inclusive and selective athletic experiences, culminating in our highly competitive IASAS teams. In this way, we aim to maintain choice and expose students to a wide variety of potential life interests while helping those with specific passions develop them to the best of their abilities.

Our students have fun and learn important life lessons through our activities and athletics offerings. We hope that this explanation helps parents better understand the new Eagle Activities and Athletics program and how it enhances our overall extracurricular program. Please send any comments, questions, or suggestions for future articles to mrogers@sas.edu.sg. We look forward to hearing from you.