• September 29NEWSPAPER 2017-2018

NCDS’s True Feelings Of Honors Convocation


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After the end of the first semester of school for over a hundred years, Honors Convocation has been the bookend to months of hard work and studying. Some love to hear about the achievements of their classmates. Others find it a stressful experience, when, for example, the ceremony reveals that they didn’t get straight A’s like a seemingly large number of people do.

93 students in grade 10, 11, and 12 responded to a survey asking them about how they feel about Honors Convocation.
39 like the tradition of Honors Convocation and as many think, love the idea that it has been going on for more than a century and feel it connects them to girls who came to school here long before them. 35 do not like this tradition and 19 were indifferent or did not know.

34, an overwhelming majority, like the new changes to Honors Convocation that began last year. 17 preferred the old way. 13 were neutral between the two and 29 still do not like either version.

While opinions differed and many people do not like Honors Convocation, of the 58 responses to the open comment box, no one suggested getting rid of the tradition. Instead, the majority of people liked most parts of the ceremony, including Goal awards, but wished that cards based on grades were kept private or removed completely. While specific grades are kept quiet, it’s obvious to tell where someone stands when compared to her classmates. While receiving a Gold or Silver Card feels great, it can be awkward when the people next to you don’t have one in their hands. Students are left feeling inferior even though grades are the least important part of a person. Honors Convocation should be a celebration of the first half of the school year and focus on other achievements, for example, successes of committees, sports, and performing arts. Cards with grade distinctions should be privately given to students either by their advisors or by mail.

Here are a few responses students gave to the survey:

“I personally enjoy it but don’t like how the school announces everyone’s grades. I appreciate the recognition but think it’s hypocritical to tell us not to share our grades, yet they are announced in front of the entire school.”

“Although it makes the students want to achieve good grades, it puts a huge amount of pressure to get an average of a B- or higher in all classes. Even if you get lower than a B- in one class, you do not receive a card, and all of your other goods grades just go down the drain. The fact that there are cards physically dignifying the smart from the smartest (and if you don’t get a card…the not smart?) seems unnecessary, as everyone already knows what grades they got for the semester.”

“It showcases those who managed to get good grades. Those who work hard but fail to get the grades are made to feel bad. Grades are not an accurate representation of hard work and intelligence. All they really do is serve to show how well you can memorize material and, for some classes, apply that material. Grades are a standardized way of comparing students and I feel that Honors Convocation creates competition and makes students who receive Silver cards or no cards feel much less accomplished than those who receive Gold. Instead of motivating these students to get red ribbons and Gold cards in the future, this can lead them to believe there is no point in trying. Seriously, surviving through a term at NCDS is cause for celebration regardless of the grades you got. Props to everyone who makes it through!”

“I think it’s unnecessary because it lowers the self esteem of students who may not be doing as well as others. Some students are praised and put on top of a pedestal in front of everyone for their high achievements, and although they deserve recognition, it should not come at the expense of having other students feel as though they are less-then when they are not. I’m sure the intentions of recognition are well intended.”

“I feel that having the school tell everyone what your general grades are is a violation of privacy. If you get a red ribbon you feel accomplished, most feel relieved. Others who don’t just feel bad about themselves. It is not about being proud, it’s about not being embarrassed.”

“It doesn’t seem to encompass the school’s goals of community as it separates us into groups based on grades. It makes people feel less because it emphasizes A’s when some people just can’t get A’s, but that doesn’t mean they get bad grades.”

“It’s a bit daunting and feels unfair and some of the information they present should be private.”

“why are our grades being announced? not so fair.”

While Honors Convocation at its core is a nice tradition in which the upper school community can get together and enjoy each other’s successes, in recent years, the focus on grades has brought down the real meaning of the ceremony. Everything at the beginning of the ceremony can be seen as opening acts to the headliner, which is when Gold and Silver cards are announced. But, as the survey can show, many people care more about Goal Awards and other achievements that don’t focus strictly on grades.

Grades are relative and are valued differently from individual to individual. Hard work is what should be rewarded. Everyone can see a student going for extra help every day studying on the bus to games, or helping peers answer questions, and these actions should be promoted and rewarded.

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NCDS’s True Feelings Of Honors Convocation