In recent years, there’s been an odd cultural trend emerging. As parents seek to shield their children from negativity, there’s been a major push in some circles to rid schools and youth groups of competitive spirit — all in the name of inclusiveness and protecting kids’ emotions.
Considering this ongoing dynamic — one that tends to anger parents who believe in the rewards associated with hard work and dedication — David Fabrizio, the principal at Ipswich Middle School in Ipswich, Mass., came under fire this week after local and national news outlets reported that he canceled an honors awards night to hold a more inclusive event.
Rather than inviting only those students who have outperformed their peers, the Daily Mail reports that Fabrizio has reorganized the event, called “Honors Night,” and is ensuring that every individual in the school can take part.
In an e-mail announcement to parents, Fabrizio purportedly said that the decision was made in an effort to avoid “devastating” those individuals who did not perform well and were, thus, not invited to the traditional awards event. Parents purportedly shared this note with Fox affiliate WFXT-TV.
“The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average,” Fabrizio wrote to parents.
According to WFXT-TV, the principal’s decision was also predicated upon the fact that academic success is also tied to the support that students get at home. And since not every student gets the same level of academic and emotional support from parents, there’s potential inequality.
Naturally, many parents both in the school district and beyond disagree with this re-organization of an annual event that was meant to herald children’s stellar performance.
Dave Morin, a parent in the district, voiced his frustration in an interview with WFXT-TV.
“It’s been a tradition in Ipswich,” he said. “And you’re very proud as a parent to go into that night and see your child, as well as some of the other children who made, really, some great efforts.”
Parental outrage was apparently so intense that Fabrizio took to the school’s web site to write a statement about the incident. In addition to rebuffing the WFXT-TV report, the principal clarified how the Honors Night program changes were being handled.
“Ipswich Middle School is dedicated to high achievement in every facet of our students’ lives. We did not cancel honors recognition as erroneously reported by FOX News Boston,” he wrote. “We changed our Honors Night from an exclusive ceremony at night to an all-inclusive ceremony during the day in the presence of the entire student body.”
So, students who excel will still be recognized for their accomplishments — and in front of the entire student body on June 17.
“During this ceremony we will honor those who have excelled in academics, in athletics, in the arts and in the related arts. Any reports to the contrary are incorrect,” the principal’s statement on the school’s web site continues.
On one hand, this can be seen as a valiant effort to recognize students who have excelled, while also motivating those who have not. Rather than having children accept their awards in front of families in a closed, evening event, these students will be shining examples to their peers.
Plus, Fabrizio notes that it’s important to expose kids who aren’t excelling to inspirational speakers — something this new-found assembly will allow.
“We had a situation where our best students were being honored exclusively away from the rest of the school. The problem was, those who needed that motivation weren’t there,” Fabrizio told the IPSwich.
But there’s also some interesting counter arguments to consider.
On the flip side, there’s also the fact that holding an evening event was special and offered children who deserve praise the necessary accolades. By simply merging this event with the larger, end-of-year assembly, the unique nature of the awards disappears.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.
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