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Published: May 31, 2011

Extracurricular (extraclass) activities

Planned activities organized and sanctioned by a school or college that bear no direct relationship to the academic curriculum. Depending on the school or college, extracurricular activities may include the range of individual and team athletic games and sports, cheerleading, the fine arts, crafts, music performance, drama societies, student publications, debating, hobbies, academically oriented discussion and study groups, vocation-related discussion and study groups, religious organizations and student government. Also called cocurricular activities, they provide enormous experiential learning opportunities unavailable in traditional classrooms and laboratories. Usually teacher-supervised at the primary and secondary school levels, most extracurricular activities at the college and university level are student organized and operated and, depending on the institution, may be independently financed or underwritten by the college’s reserve of student fees. Some schools and colleges award course credits for participation in some instructor-supervised extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities became centers of controversy in some high schools and colleges during the last decades of the 20th century as students began forming groups that mirrored the political and religious controversies raging across the nation. Initially, they were ethnically and racially oriented and then expanded into sexually oriented groups, with gay and lesbian students forming organizations that met little resistance at the college or university level, where their peers were legally adult. Such groups, however, provoked storms of public protest at the high school level, where tax dollars supported extracurricular as well as academic activities. Some public high schools responded by abolishing all nonsport extracurricular activities rather than permit sexually oriented clubs on campus. (See also COCURRICULAR ACTIVITIES.)