Editorial: Molding academic heroes
March 19, 2011
Much of today’s society places accolades on traditional high school idols, like those in athletics. However, in the face of our schools’ declining test scores, we need to prioritize the recognition of heroes in the classroom to motivate our students to succeed in all aspects of learning and life.
Take a walk down Moffat County High School's hallways and it is hard not to spot them. They're idols among students — athletic heroes and social royalty, so to speak.
However, what is harder to find are students who pursue a different aspiration — lofty academic achievement.
Sure top athletic positions and the other socially prominent roles have their place in the high school landscape. They probably always will.
But, in the face of declining test scores in the county and large budget cuts handed down from the state, we need to do something to make a priority out of recognizing students who excel academically.
The Editorial Board contends there are very few top academic positions for our students to pursue. That needs to change.
We need to make it equally desirable to have good grades as it is to start on whatever team — athletic or otherwise.
It gets back to the notion that instead of pulling our students up through the system and hoping they'll make it in the real world, we need to place the fruit a little higher on the tree and give them a reason to want to make it.
Let's face it — we live in a society where everybody gets a ribbon.
Academics are no different. Instead of scratching and clawing for top academic honors, our students are being rewarded for what should be expected of them.
The Editorial Board sat down with MCHS Principal Thom Schnellinger to discuss a few solutions to this problem.
The first item we asked about was the high school's decision to not have a valedictorian in the true sense of the word, but rather a group of valedictorians.
The root of the situation is the school doesn't have weighted grades, and before the school made it so students could not achieve more than a 4.0 grade point average, there was too much parent fighting over the top spot, Schnellinger contends.
That's understandable considering the weight the title has on college applications and job resumes.
However, the Editorial Board would like to see that lone, top spot re-established as something our students can set their sights on.
Schnellinger also elaborated on the school's boy and girl of the year award, which takes into account extracurricular activities, athletics and other factors not just tied to academics.
This award has merit because having well-rounded students is important to our society.
We think if we can't bring back the lone valedictorian, then this top honor should be promoted and pushed more than it currently is as the most desirable award for our students to achieve.
We're not convinced such emphasis will make a sizeable dent in the problem, but we have to start somewhere.
We must get rid of the attitude that mediocrity is acceptable.
Schnellinger and the Editorial Board agree we need to develop more rigor in the classroom and make it harder for students to pass through the system. But, we need to give them a reason to want to succeed because most don't realize the importance until it's too late.
These students need to know what it is to lose.
They need to know what it is to get in over their heads and work their way out — to struggle to find success and feel the rewards once achieved.
Regardless of the classroom subject, the lessons they learn will be much greater than rewarding mediocrity as we have for too long.
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