The push for brawn and brains is getting stronger at Delaware Hayes High School.

The push for brawn and brains is getting stronger at Delaware Hayes High School.

Hayes athletes are encouraged by district staff to put their academic career first in their student lives.

As part of the district's broader goal to increase students' academic development, the athletic department has decided to start a student athlete council.

The council will be composed of male and female athletes from different grades that represent different sports teams. They will meet together to discuss how the athletic department can improve its activities and communication with the student body and the public.

Clint Fetty, the district's athletic director, said a lot of small Division III colleges have student councils, as do some other high schools around the state. Fetty said he was involved with one when he was in college and said it was a great way to get involved.

"I want our kids to get more involved so they can be more-rounded students," he said. "I want to raise the bar across the board and translate what we're doing in athletics to what we're doing in the classroom."

Fetty said he thinks by raising expectations, students will be held accountable to perform better in the classroom, which is part of the broader goal of the district. He also believes it will be good for students to have those activities on their college applications.

Fetty said he hopes students will come up with ideas to improve communication, more ways to promote all sports in the community, and more community service ideas. He wants their advice on how they can improve game nights and activities that take place in the district.

Now, some high school athletes spend time in the elementary schools mentoring younger students and encouraging them. District leaders hope the community service doesn't stop there.

"My hope is that there are more ideas that spring from the council and they will take ownership of those ideas and make it happen," he said.

Fetty said a high school athlete council in another city came up with the idea to test all student athletes for drugs. The plan proved successful in that district, and Fetty said he hopes the Hayes council will come up with similar ideas.

Another way the athletic department is raising the bar is by allowing all teams to participate in the Principal's Award, given to the team in the school has the highest grade-point average.

"I think having their peers push each other and hold each other accountable will be a big help," he said. "It will encourage competitiveness, which will ultimately raise the academic curve."

Fetty said the group holds study table nights for the student athletes to drive home the fact that academics are foundational to them.

"We want to drive home the importance of academics coming first for any student athlete," he said.

The district will offer incentives to parents who want to take free online courses to get them more involved in their understanding of students and athletics. The courses take about 30 minutes to complete, and parents who finish them will receive a certificate.

They can bring that certificate into the athletic office and receive a gift from the department.

"I think there can be a lot of positive things that come out of taking those courses, and I'm hoping the incentives will encourage parents to take them," he said.

The council is open to any interested athletes and will hold its first meeting in the next few weeks.