Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli (R-District 16) has introduced legislation that would lead to varsity letters being awarded at New Jersey high schools for competitions not on the athletic field.
Ciattarelli's bill mandates school districts with high school to establish criteria for awarding varsity letters for participating in all extracurricular activities that include competitions with students from other schools.
“There is a long tradition of high schools awarding athletes with varsity letters At many schools, marching band and jazz band members also earn letters. Why stop there?” asked Ciattarelli. “There are other competitive activities that require the same level of commitment, dedication, teamwork and school pride. Because varsity letters symbolize sacrifice and accomplishment, they should not be limited to mostly athletes in traditional sports.”
Under Ciattarelli’s bill, students will be eligible to earn varsity letters for participating in, for example, robotics, debate teams, chess clubs and any other school sanctioned activity that competes with other high schools.
“Awarding a varsity letter to everyone who distinguishes themselves and their high school in interscholastic competitions is only fair and right,” said Ciattarelli.
"It's about time," said Don Bowers, of Readington, who recently retired after 20 years of involvement with FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology), a program that promotes robotics in high schools.
"There are so many high schools involved in competitions that do not involve athletics who deserve to be recognized," Bowers said.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D- District 7), vice chairman of the Assembly's Education Committee.