River City Early College students allowed to play sports

Published 8:51 am Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Starting this school year, students attending River City Early College will have a new avenue to participate in extracurricular activities.

As River City begins its second year of operation, the 120 students — 50 sophomores and 70 freshmen — will be eligible to participate in high school sports for the first time.

The students will be eligible to participate in any sports as well as band and choir at the high school that they would have been zoned for if they weren’t attending River City.

“Basically what the students at River City Early College do is they are zoned to the schools in which their eligibility is established,” Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent Chad Shealy said. “If their home resides within the sports district for Warren Central, they will play at Warren Central.”

Shealy added that logistical hurdles prevented the students from participating last year.

“(River City) got started too late to really work out the details with the Mississippi High School Activities Association last year,” Shealy said. “The first year we were reluctant to do it because we didn’t want to put them in any kind of NCAA violation or anything that would harm a kid.”

The decision was made to allow River City students to participate in sports so as to attract a more diverse set of students to the program, Shealy and VWSD athletic director Preston Nailor said.

“We had some students that made the decision that first year to be at the home school because they couldn’t play sports,” Shealy said. “We didn’t want that to be a hindrance for anybody participating in that program.”

River City students will have the option to be bused to their home school starting at 2:30 p.m. so they can participate in after-school activities. In many ways, however, Shealy said River City will remain its own high school.

“It is similar to what we do with the Academy of Innovation,” Shealy said. “It is a program of study, but you are still affiliated with your home school. The biggest difference with River City Early College is they are their own entity. They will have their own graduation, they have their own mascot, they have their own identity.”

River City is currently capped at 70 new students each year, but the hope is that as the program expands and a new building is built at Hinds Community College, where the school is located, enrollment will also be allowed to increase.

“We did some research, we talked to MHSAA and they said as long as they are a part of their home school they can participate,” Nailor said. “We want to make sure that those kids, because they are seeking a different academic route, that they have the opportunity to participate like everybody else.”