Cumberland school leaders OK 6th graders to try out for middle school teams

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The Cumberland County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to allow 6th graders to try out for middle school athletic teams, with the exception of football.

It’s an issue school districts across North Carolina are reviewing after the State Board of Education gave each individual school district the chance to decide.

At last count, 73 out of the 101 schools districts in North Carolina allow it.

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In Fayetteville Guard Youth Football league, middle schools practice together. The age range is even bigger for the warm-up and some drills.

“I’ve seen them come from quiet, shy, timid boys to outgoing, positive leaders in their school and the community,” said Natasha Jarman, a mother and elementary school teacher.

Jarman said her two sons have come along way since they first started playing with the travel football team.

Adrian Williams is one of the coaches.

“Each one of those kids gets the chance to be a leader to somebody younger than them and be an example in everyday conduct,” Williams said.

Cumberland County’s Board of Education gave its middle schools the chance to weigh in. They said eight opposed it, while six supported it.

“At this point, I don’t feel like it should be a priority,” said board member Porcha McMillan.

“The issue of transition from 6th grade to middle school is hard enough,” added board member Judy Musgrave.

Some board members also expressed concerns about 6th graders getting hurt.

Still, others said smaller schools need those students to field a team.

“They had to behave if they didn’t want to get kicked off the team,” Donna Vann, vice chairman of the board said.

In the end the motion passed.

The next step is unclear. The director of student activities wasn’t on hand Tuesday night to clarify how this new policy will be implemented.

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