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2003-06-12 01:43:41 (UTC)

Sharpened Pencil Awards

Tonight we are going to Hugh's Senior Class Potluck/Awards
dinner. The potluck is fine but the awards part of the
program is pretty lame. Nothing ever changes. Awards are
not given for real achievements. Others may take these
awards seriously. We see them as jokes.

We avoided "awards ceremonies" in elementary school
(mainly because we homeschooled most of that time). We did
go to Jack's 8th grade graduation awards ceremony. This was
10 years ago. He, along with four other students, had just
completed high school algebra (after a huge battle with the
high school principal to allow them to take it). One award
was for Math Student of the Year. The math teacher announced
that this student was getting the award because she always
came to class with "a smile on her face and a sharpened
pencil in her hand". Huh? The five students who'd
completed the high school level course were totally ignored.
An interesting aside: a school board member presented the
awards. He just happened to be this student's father.
Don't tell me politics doesn't enter the picture. I've
realized that there are students in my district who
get awards not because they deserve them but because of who
or what their parents are. I know this is pretty
commonplace too. The same students come up again and again
to pick up the "awards".

Anyway, stupid school awards are now known in my family as
"sharpened pencil awards". As my DH said at the time, this
student should have received the "best PREPARED math student
of the year award".

Another example. At high school graduation (again, this was
Jack) awards were also given out. One was for "Computer
Science Student of the Year". Jack had completed several
university level courses (paid for the district and
listed on his transcript) in computer programming and
computer engineering, earning "A's". Another student got the
award because he had put together a rudimentary web page
using a software program (which meant he didn't even
known HTML). Jack wasn't upset with this and neither were
John nor I. We'd "been there, done that" and knew what
to expect. His grandparents, however, could not understand
why their grandson's achievements were totally ignored and
it was hard to explain to them. We finally convinced them
it was probably just an oversight.

Do you see now why I'm so happy to be done dealing with the
school system? The person you see doing the happiest happy
dance after graduation wll be ME!

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