Recognizing the achievements of students has been a time-honored tradition among schools across the nation. Taking time to celebrate the hard work they have put into scholastic and athletic endeavors, such ceremonies are seen by many as a deserved reward.

Some schools, such as Archie R. Cole Middle School in East Greenwich, R.I., however, are scrapping events that acknowledge the intellectual pursuits of their most dedicated students.


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In an email drafted by the school’s principal and assistant principal, parents recently learned the traditional honors night had been cancelled because some students did not make the cut. Obviously, such is the inherent result of any awards ceremony.

Nevertheless, administrators would rather disincentivize achievement by the most promising students than recognize these achievers, quite possibly giving those who didn’t qualify this year motivation to try harder next year.

“Members of the school community have long expressed concerns related to the exclusive nature of Honors Night,” the email stated.

Every student will not qualify for the event, just as some will shine in sports while others will not. High achievers in both of these disciplines have made an effort to stand out from the crowd and, in the opinion of many, deserve the special recognition that has been a tradition at the school in years past.


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While some awards will still be given out, the email states they will only be a part of an overall team-based ceremony during graduation.

The shift will “afford us the opportunity to celebrate the individual and collective success of all students and their effort, progress and excellence,” the administrators wrote. Athletic achievements will also be recognized during the event.

Celebrating every student, regardless of merit, has become all too common in a public school system some contend actively shelters young people from failure.

Many parents see this trend, illustrated in decisions like this one, as a huge disservice to the next generation as a whole.

“How else are they supposed to learn coping skills,” one parent wondered, “not just based on success, but relative failure – it might not be failure – but understand what it takes to achieve high levels?”

Photo credit: superkimbo (Flickr)


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