Tonya Anderson tried to be chipper about her report card yesterday afternoon as she stood in the icy drizzle outside Bladensburg High School.
But with a 1.59 average, the freshman had lost her place on the volleyball team and, momentarily, her self-confidence.
"My feelings are kind of hurt," she said. Then, with a short laugh: "Actually, I feel like breaking down and crying in public.
"I know I need to have good grades and improve and everything," she said, "but it's like you're really punished if you don't come up to par. I mean, I don't want to feel like a double loser because my grades are bad and I'm kicked off the team."
With the issuance of yesterday's report cards, Prince George's County began enforcing a new policy requiring a 2.0 average for any student participating in extracurricular activities. Of the 20 high schools in the county, Bladensburg had the highest percentage of students -- 54.9 percent of its 1,582 total -- who may not take part in clubs or athletic teams.
"They didn't please me," said Principal Ronald Cunningham of the results, "but it wasn't totally unexpected."
The news had an immediate impact on winter sports at the school: Bladensburg lost one player from its girls' basketball team, two from its boys' varsity basketball team and five from its junior varsity team. And it also had a resounding impact on the student body at large.
"Now, everybody will know nobody can slough off," said athletic director Pat Rhodes. "There was a large number falling below the mark this time, but that will show improvement as time goes on. Because the students are going to say, 'Hey, they're serious about this.'
"It's just a little more emphasis," she said, "on better grades instead of just squeaking by."
Fifteen-year-old Leonard Howard didn't squeak by, and for him, yesterday was a day of decision.
Howard, who played defensive lineman on the Bladensburg junior varsity football team last fall, has decided to get serious about his schoolwork. With a 1.52 average for the semester, he has no choice but to improve if he wants to wear a varsity uniform next year.
"I always seem to do bad on my foreign languages," Howard said. "Spanish is awful. I can speak it, but I can't write.
"The thing is, I really do want to play football," he said, "and I don't want dumb Spanish to be in the way."
Most students knew what to expect with their report cards. That's what disturbed boys' varsity basketball coach Dennis Cope most in the case of one of his players. Cope said he lost his backup center, a 6-foot-6 senior, to bad grades. And it was no surprise.
"I was unhappy with his whole attitude about the thing," Cope said. "He was definitely a good player and he had an opportunity to bring his grades up by making up a couple of tests, but he didn't bother."
Cope said the player ruined his chances for an athletic scholarship.
"I had a letter from Roanoke College about him just last Friday," Cope said, "but it's too late now."
One Bladensburg athlete, however, was rejoicing yesterday.
Casie Dunmore, a top junior basketball player who had been on the verge of losing her eligibility, triumphed with a 2.0 average. She brought her English grade from an E to a C.
"My teachers really worked with me," she said. "I made good grades on my exams and they took into consideration that I always came to class and participated and never talked back and had an overall good attitude." Dunmore regularly worked in a special study hall her coach, Rhodes, set up for the players.
"I had worried," Dunmore said, "but I'm so happy now. It would have broken my heart if I had been kicked off the team."