Friday, March 9, 2007
Honor Roll out?
In the latest Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) newsletter, which is sent monthly to parents of students at the high school, Principal Arthur Dulong announced a new policy for disseminating the honor roll. It will no longer be published in the local newspapers but instead, only at the school, outside the principal's office at the end of each quarter, after report cards have been handed out. For many years the Carlisle Mosquito has been publishing the CCHS Honor Roll three times a year, including honors and high honors.
This change in school policy came about by a decision of the 26-member Student Senate, with unanimous agreement of the faculty department chairs and the support of Principal Dulong. Dulong admits that this is a controversial decision. "Without doubt some of you agree and some do not," is how he explained it. It is very much the same for those of us here in the Mosquito office. There are some of us who agree with the new school policy of not submitting the Honor Roll to the newspaper, while there are others who do not. I, for one, do not agree with the new policy.
In my role as an Assistant Editor in charge of the Friends and Neighbors page, I put in the names and photographs of students each week who excel in one activity or another at CCHS. For example, last week there were the names of students who were selected for the Massachusetts All-State Music Festival, and also students selected to participate in the Northeast Massachusetts Junior District Music Festival. On that same page was a photograph of the three Dual County League Basketball All-Stars from the high school. And in the same issue of the Mosquito was the extensive centerfold article, "Evita at CCHS," with photographs of students in the cast, crew, orchestra and chorus. Later in the month, the Mosquito will feature an article and photographs of students who have taken part in the winter sports program at CCHS.
Shouldn't the students who work hard and apply themselves to getting good grades be recognized as well? Private schools that Carlisle students attend send us the names of students who have been placed on their Honor Rolls. When college students are named to the Dean's List, we put their names in the newspaper. When a young man becomes an Eagle Scout, a write-up and his photograph appear in the newspaper.
There has been a growing concern about the pressure high school students experience as they prepare for college, and rightly so. In response, some colleges have eliminated their early decision acceptance procedure. There are other colleges that no longer ask for SAT scores. But failing to publish the CCHS Honor Roll in the newspaper and not acknowledge the achievements of those who do well in the classroom is to pretend that all students are the same. That is not how the world works and the sooner one learns this, the better.
When I was (or get to be) your age...
Gadgetry has always fascinated me. I'm what today's techies might call an "early adopter." Part of the reason is my general restlessness, which causes me always to want to try something new and different. But the main factor is more likely my curiosity about whether there is an easier or more efficient way to do ordinary tasks, or a newly-developed way to perform a task that previously couldn't be done at all.
As a boy, I recall thinking, with some dismay, that everything important had already been invented. My dismay stemmed from the consequent realization that nothing new of significance lay on the horizon, and (more personally) that I was foreclosed by my predecessors' innovations from inventing anything truly important. After all, color television, radio, automobiles and airplanes had already been invented, and NASA had even put a man on the moon.
Of course, my concern was badly premature and misplaced. In fact, both the pace and range of technological innovations have probably been greater since my youth than at any time in human history (not that I have invented anything myself, mind you).
An episode that occurred during a long family car ride 15 years ago will illustrate the point. We had purchased one of the first small "notebook" computers, which approximated the size of the Sunday Times. To occupy our pre-school son during the drive, I installed "Reader Rabbit," a computer game designed both to teach and to entertain. The scheme worked like magic — we heard nary a peep from the back seat (though we heard lots of beeps). Until, that is, about two hours into the drive, when a small voice said, "The battery is dead — do we have a spare laptop in the car?"
I was flabbergasted. The notion that it was possible to deploy a portable computer as driving entertainment was remarkable to me — yet my son obviously took it for granted. "A spare laptop in the car???" I blustered. Then I uttered the words I swore would never pass my lips: "When I was your age ..."
"When I was your age, there were no such things as computers, much less laptops. The fact that you've been able to play games on one this long is nothing short of amazing!" Sensing my son's incomprehension, and realizing that he meant no complaint, I decided to change course. "And what's even more amazing," I continued, "is that, when you are my age, there will be something else that you can't even imagine right now, and your children will not believe that it did not exist when you were young."
We spent the next miles trying to imagine what such a thing might be, and tossed out several seemingly outlandish ideas. Our imaginations were insufficiently fertile, though, to envision the Internet or iPods, or cellphones that fit in a shirt pocket, send e-mail and take pictures.
I think back to that car ride every so often, and wonder. How could so much have happened since then? And what surprises could the coming years hold in store? I surely don't know.
© 2007 The