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Martin Academy students Eric Applequist (Left) and Kyle Angielski (Right) hang out at Evraz Place before baseball practice. Photo by Alex Johnson.

This is not the kind of gym class you dreamt of skipping in high school. Martin Academy is going beyond expectations in both athletics and academics, according to reports released at a Regina Public School Board meeting on March 1.

The program, introduced in fall 2014, offers grades 9 to 12 students the opportunity to train for a chosen sport during their school day. The academy offers streams in hockey, baseball, softball and premier performance.

The education aspect of the program is still important. “First and foremost we are an academic program. We spend a great deal of time ensuring that all curriculum requirements are met,” said Rob Cherepuschak, teacher and program coordinator at the academy.

Reports from Martin administrative staff indicate that 94 per cent of all class credits have been attained by students in the first semester of the school year. That number is expected to grow in the second semester.

Staff members work with the students to create a flexible schedule to ensure they meet academic requirements. Students receive instruction from academy coaches and professional instructors.

The premier performance stream is the newest addition to the program. Athletes from approximately 15 different sports are enrolled in classes that include baton, judo and water polo.

“It really brings a great dynamic to the group,” Cherepuschak said.

The premier performance stream was added to include sports not previously offered in high school, such as yoga, swimming, and strength training.

In the baseball program, 6 out of 20 students are currently accepted to university or college this fall, and will be playing on respective post secondary baseball teams. Cherepuschak said he expects anywhere from 12 to 14 of the students to be in the same boat within the next few months.

Catcher Kyle Angielski will attend Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota this fall. “I would really recommend to athletes who are serious about the sport to come here, for sure. You’ll enjoy every minute,” he said.

”It’s easy to become a leader here,” he added.

Some community members are concerned that the Academy’s syllabus may be too narrow. Paul Grebinski, wrestling coach at Thom Collegiate and professional mixed martial arts wrestler, said although he thinks more young people should be exposed to sport, arts and culture are just as important.

“Don’t get me wrong, sports have played a major role in my life… That being said, I think placing so much influence on one aspect of developing a person’s life limits their opportunities later on,” said Grebinski.

Kelly Kuntz, whose son is enrolled in the hockey stream next year, said she feels great about him choosing to attend the school.

“(The students) all end up with the proper amount of credits to graduate and move on to post secondary. Basically these kids are choosing the training aspects (of sport) for school credits over photography, drama or art,” she said.

Each student is required to complete 24 credits to graduate which includes the same mandatory classes as other public high schools. They must have five credits at the 30-level and two credits in practical and applied credits or fine arts.

The delivery cost of the program for the 2016/2017 school year varies from $400 to $1,200 per student, depending on which stream is chosen.