Friday, March 6, 2009
Why doesn’t the Mosquito print the CCHS honor roll?
Two years ago, in one of their most controversial decisions to date, the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Student Senate voted to end the publishing of the high school honor roll by local newspapers. The legislation responsible for the decision was known as S.S. 1.3 and sponsored by students Spencer Holland and Sebastian Rogers, both of Concord. It passed by a narrow margin, with the final vote 12 to 11, with one abstention.
The bill cites the “excessive pressures of being recognized by peers and community” that the honor roll creates, and the already competitive environment at the high school. Students’ privacy is also a concern of the bill, explaining how the honor roll “allow[s] the community to know an approximate range of grades a student [receives].” Also, the document reasons that students who “push themselves academically through challenging courses have a harder time making the honor roll,” since the honor roll does not distinguish grades in higher-level classes from grades in lower-level classes.
In addition, the bill addresses people’s concerns about losing a venue that recognizes students for their academic achievements, while success in athletics and other extracurriculars is a staple of the “Friends and Neighbors” page. It references the end-of-the year Awards Ceremony which serves to celebrate students who have succeeded academically, and the fact that “receiving grades is mandatory and compulsory,” whereas extracurricular activities are “voluntary and optional,” so the two cannot be compared. The bill’s content makes clear that its intent is not “to eliminate the school’s ability to acknowledge students,” but simply to end publication of the honor roll.
The Concord and Carlisle communities received the bill with mixed reactions. In an editorial written shortly after the decision, Marilyn Harte stated her position against the change, pointing to articles covering students’ participation in extracurricular activities and asking “Shouldn’t the students who work hard and apply themselves to getting good grades be recognized as well?” In a letter to the editor, Dick Shohet took a different position, stating, “Kids who win in open competitions – musical, artistic, athletic – deserve public acclamation. Grades are not competitive, except individually. Let college admissions officers do the comparing.”
Now two years later, the decision is seldom spoken of at the high school, where most students are indifferent, though it remains a popular topic of debate in town. Carlisle Senior Blair Robinson, a current member of Student Senate, and a senator who served when the decision was made, explains, “My mom is definitely a lot more upset about the decision than I am. I think this is the general pattern, that the parents care more than the kids. It is always nice to be recognized for academic achievement, but I don’t think giving some students this glory is worth it if there are so many other students who are hurt because they did not make the list.”
CCHS science teacher and faculty advisor to the Student Senate Brian Miller feels that “ it’s totally a student issue,” and explains that though “there was a discussion among faculty chairs about whether they thought it was right or not,” ultimately it was decided “this [was] a student decision, and [Senate] is the voice of the students.” Miller adds, “I can totally understand arguments both ways, but if at the end of the day that’s the way the vote falls, then that’s what I’m in support of.”
[Ed. note: Tommy Veitch is a sophomore at the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School and a member of the Student Senate. This article was inspired by a reader’s question received during the Mosquito’s Fund Drive.]
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito