NEWBURYPORT — Newburyport High School’s swelling student body has put the school in a bind financially, but the increased number of students could bode well for the future of the school’s athletics program.
NHS Principal Mike Parent recently told the School Committee that the school has seen an increase of more than 100 students over the past two years, and that more students are likely coming down the pipe. This year’s freshman class, which consists of 216 students, was bigger than school officials had expected, and next year’s incoming class is expected to be over 200 students strong as well.
“We’re normally in the 180 range, give or take a few students,” Parent said. “We’ve had class sizes of 200 in the past, but since I’ve been here we haven’t had back-to-back classes with 200 or more.”
While an increase in student population can often lead to growing pains for a school suddenly faced with overcrowded classrooms and tough financial choices, it also offers the advantage of a larger pool of athletes to form competitive teams.
Obviously having more potential athletes doesn’t necessarily mean more good athletes, but based on the performances turned in by NHS freshmen over the fall and winter seasons, the future of Newburyport High School athletics looks bright.
This past fall, the Newburyport freshman football team completed an undefeated season, and then the freshman basketball team nearly matched that feat, starting the season 16-0 before losing to Saugus by one point in the season finale.
Several freshmen have already broken through to make an impact at the varsity level too. Five freshmen played on this year’s boys varsity hockey team, which went 12-8-2 while qualifying for the state tournament in the team’s first year as a Division I program, and there were also four freshmen on the girls varsity basketball team and one on the boys varsity basketball team.