The state’s best brains-and-brawn combo resides in Parma.
The 12-member boys varsity basketball team won its first-ever state championship in March. The boys also earned recognition for owning the state’s highest team grade-point average — an impressive 3.8. They have earned the statewide academic honor two years in a row, awarded by the Idaho High School Activities Association.
“The running joke on the team is who got the B,” said Scot Garrick, the head basketball coach.
Most of the players own GPAs that hover close to a 4.0, with four being perfect. All 12 are above a 3.0 GPA.
The culture on the team is structured to help students achieve high grades through peer review, staff support and high expectations.
“We want to try to win games, but we have a high standard in the classroom and on the court,” Garrick said. “I’m the first to know if a student slips and then I’ll find the resources to have the student succeed.”
The team has limited weekend practice and the coach keeps the after school practices to two hours. Players then have time in the evenings to complete homework.
“I take my grades very seriously and my school work comes before sports,” said Colton Merges, Parma High’s 2016 valedictorian. “We are in high school and know we need to go on to college.”
Students in the Parma School District learn about going on to college at an early age because of the Bruce Mitchell Foundation scholarship. Mitchell’s estate provides college scholarships to Parma graduates who maintain high GPAs. Parma’s college go-on rate is well above the state average (52 percent) at 71 percent from the class of 2013.
This year, 42 of Parma’s 73 seniors applied for the scholarship including all five seniors on the basketball team.
“The team is showing people in the community that we do care about our schooling,” said Enrique Gutierrez, a team captain. “It feels good to get the academic award.”