Lucky for the Cascade Cadets, they weren't asked to invite Plainfield's top-rated band—the 140-member band, that is—or the 229-member choir. In fact, half of Plainfield's 800 students belong to some team, band, choir etc. (compared with a 20 percent extracurricular average in public schools nationwide) because of one simple rule: Anyone who wants to be on a team is on the team. Says cheerleader Allison Kern, 12: "Usually it's only the popular people that make cheer-leading—and I'm just medium popular." (The cheerleaders were welcomed at the Cascade game when someone pointed out the amount of sodas and hot dogs they and their parents would buy.)
Plainfield's no-cut policy was instituted in 1990 by Principal Jerry Goldsberry, who remembers being cut from his college baseball team. That sort of thing won't happen at his school. "We had a kid who wanted to be in the band and play clarinet," says Goldsberry, 40. "I said, 'Can you play one?' The kid said no, and I said, 'Great! Have a clarinet. Welcome to the band!' "