By Ray Dunaway

From the world of education;

The Principal of Archie R. Cole Middle School in East Greenwich R.I. has notified parents of students that for now and into the future, Honors Night will be cancelled.  The ceremony, held annually to recognize outstanding academic achievement is, according to the administrators, “exclusionary” and causes for those not invited hurt feelings.  Principal Alexis Meyer claims in the letter that “members of the school community have long expressed concerns related to the exclusive nature of Honors Night.”

Sure they have.

Instead, the school will recognize “team-based efforts” which will “afford us the opportunity to celebrate the individual and (most importantly) collective successes of all students and their effort, progress and excellence”.

So I should strive for good grades because……..?

But if a student does earn straight A’s he or she should recognize that “they didn’t build that” sterling record, to paraphrase Sen. Elizabeth Warren. After all, it’s their less successful classmates that allowed them to stand out. So in some cosmic sense, the group should get some love, as well.

And that’s why Principal Meyer is an “educator”. She grasps the big picture.

But there’s always someone who just won’t go along with the program. Some parents fear the ceremonies demise will discourage their offspring from striving to excel. Joe Koslowski , interviewed by a Providence TV station, reported that his daughter, Kaitlin, failed to qualify for the ceremony last year. So she stepped up her game, and earned an invitation this year. Kaitlin told reporters that her desire to attend the honors program was a goal that motivated her to work harder. Now, she feels like a chump for working so hard.

But Kaitlyn is learning a valuable lesson. In this brave new age no score is kept. Why should someone be recognized for performing better than another? As the Beatles once sang:”I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

I know how it feels to be left out. In my years in school I never once was awarded a “letter” for sports, and my scarlet- and- white letter jacket, devoid of that symbol of achievement became a painful reminder of my failure as a jock. It can hurt.

So I’m pleased to report that Alexis Meyer plans to change the school’s annual sports awards next year.

Somehow, I feel better.


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