Honor students deserve some acknowledgment
I am disturbed by a recent letter suggesting abolishing the publication of school honor rolls. I’m sure the writer had good intentions, but our society already places a relatively low value on intellectual achievement. It’s not unusual for kids to feel social pressure to conceal high intelligence. In many cases, school districts attempting to address self-esteem issues have contributed to the “dumbing down” of American education.
On the other hand, we glorify athletes and entertainers and “beautiful people” to excess. I don’t see people writing in bemoaning the attention given to high school football players, for example. There is a big double standard, in terms of who receives recognition and validation for genuine achievement, or even genetic good luck, and who does not.
We can sympathize with students who get only limited results from their efforts. The students who find gym classes embarrassing because they lack coordination, the students who can’t carry a tune in music class, the students who are all thumbs in shop class, the students whose appearance daily publishes the fact that they aren’t among the most physically attractive members of the class; all are at risk of feeling bad about themselves.
Everyone has a weakness, and everyone has to learn to handle it. That is part of living and maturing in this world. We aren’t going to ask the prettiest girls to wear bags over their heads, or ask the athletes to play with one hand behind their backs. Where is the “modesty” desired by the recent writer at all the usual school assemblies and performances? Why deny honor students the relatively small public acknowledgment of having their names published on a list?
Instead of concealing the achievements and natural assets of some students, school districts can work to help each student appreciate his individual strengths, while coping effectively with his challenges.