The Plano Independent School District (ISD) board of trustees discussed at its January 10 meeting a report on “Athletic Alignment.”
“In an effort to strengthen student participation and engagement, it was critical to address programmatic concerns, build cohesion in our teams, and to increase school spirit and overall unity and brand in our high school feeders,” Plano ISD said on its website about the Athletic Alignment survey now being conducted.
The idea is part of a 2019 strategic plan that has sought to improve issues such as the sizes of teams at the 10th-grade level, athlete development, recruiting quality coaches, and scheduling issues with other districts. Part of the plan involves uniting its senior high schools and high schools under matching mascots, names, and colors.
Plano ISD currently uses a unique model that has students attend feeder high schools during 9th and 10th grades, then move to a senior high school for the final two years. No other local school districts use that format, and it has caused scheduling issues.
One of the new initiatives that was implemented is known as “JV2.” This policy was put into effect during the 2020-21 school year and created football and volleyball teams for 10th-grade students, later followed by the additions of basketball and baseball in 2021-22.
The district has reported that these changes have led to an increase in student involvement and improved relationships between student-athletes and coaches.
The ultimate goal of these initiatives is to have the senior high schools match their feeder high schools in order to strengthen student and parent engagement, school spirit, teamwork, cohesion, and unity in each school.
“Let’s line them up. That way we’re all one family,” Plano ISD Athletic Director Jeff Smith said as he presented the next phase of the plan to the board. “We’re all one brand. We’re all one group. There’s unity in that. There’s cohesion in that, and I think there’s a lot of spirit and pride in that.”
“When I was a second grader watching my brother play for the Plano Wildcats, I wanted to be a Plano Wildcat,” David Stolle, board president, mentioned.
“That is all I wanted to be. That’s the functionality of being in a single-school town. We are not that anymore. However, we have a structure set up to where we can create single-school identities for all three of our senior highs.”
That would mean that Plano Senior High School would match Vines and Clark High Schools, Plano East Senior High School would match McMillen and Williams High Schools, and Plano West Senior High School would match Jasper and Shepton High Schools.
All these schools currently have different mascots and colors.
Stolle also noted that unifying the schools is fairly common and pointed to Southlake Carroll High School as a prime example.
“From kindergarten to 12th grade, they’re all Dragons,” he said. “And you can look at the athletic success that those kids have when they dream as a kindergartener of being a Dragon, and that’s all they want to be.”
The board has posted a survey on the Athletic Alignment program on the Plano ISD website that will be available until January 26 and asks various questions about JV2 and overall school spirit. The results will be discussed at a board meeting on February 7.
The changes could be made as soon as 2023-24 and are not expected to affect other departments.
The Dallas Express reached out to Plano ISD Athletics for comment but had not received any response at the time of publication.