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Sixth-Grade Status

Membership Resolutions for the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the 2016-17 school year are now due. This is an annual rite of summer for school boards and governing bodies, intended to be a time when those entities recommit to following all the rules, all the time.

A new wrinkle in the routine is the opportunity to include 6th-graders in middle school membership. Approximately two-thirds of member middle schools are doing so.

What is not known to us through the Membership Resolution process is how those 6th-graders will be involved – where the school will have separate 6th-grade teams and where 6th-graders will be part of teams for 7th- and/or 8th-graders.

Junior high/middle schools which join the MHSAA at the 6th-grade level may allow 6th-graders to participate with 7th- and 8th-graders in individual sports (e.g., bowling, cross country, track & field, swimming & diving, tennis and wrestling). With the approval of their middle school leagues, this may occur also in team sports.

The MHSAA’s Junior High/Middle School Committee will depart from other standing committees by meeting twice during 2016-17 and subsequent school years. Its full agenda will include a review of how 6th-graders are being accommodated by middle schools and their leagues.

All of this is under the over-arching goal to involve more students in school-sponsored sports at younger ages, and to capture their interests and meet their needs within the philosophies of educational athletics.

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.