Academic recognition in high school?

<p>I am the PTA president at an urban public high school that prides itself on its academics. Our school draws students from all over the district and does not have any sports teams. Typical academic recognition of students consists of an ice cream sandwich each quarter for those kids who make honor roll and a T-shirt at the end of the year for those who have been on honor roll the first 3 quarters. There has been an occasional academic recognition assembly at the end of the school year that varies wildly in its execution.</p>

<p>Recently, I was asked by the principal to contribute some ideas for academic recognition. What does your school do to honor academic achievement that is appreciated by the students?</p>

<p>Our school has an academic assembly every year at the beginning of the second semester. Students who had a 3.5 GPA for the previous school year received an academic letter (similar to an athletic letter) or a pin to put on a previously earned letter. </p>

<p>Those students who raised their GPA by a certain amount (forget what it is) received some sort of recognition, no matter what the starting or ending GPA was, as long as it raised by that amount they were recognized.</p>

<p>The assembly happens during the school day, the whole student body is expected to be there, parents of recognized students are invited (and most usually take the day off and come), a veterans group presents the flag, some local dignatary gives a speech, and those students receiving honors come up by name and receive their award from the NHS president.</p>

<p>We don't do honor roll or anything like that. When NMSF, Commended, etc are announced, the names are listed in our weekly e-newsletter. That happens if someone wins a big award, like being an Intel finalist.</p>

<p>At the end of the year, there is an evening reception in the theater where various award-winners are honored -- top 10% of each class, people who medal on the foreign language nat'l exams, the NMSF, etc. crowd, kids who are going to a military academy get their commissions. The principal is emcee, and there is some kind of speaker.</p>

<p>I think it could be nicer than it is, but at least it's something. I like that they make an effort to recognize various kinds of academic achievement. And I love checking out the kids who make top 10% but who aren't NMSF. At our school, the top 10% often is achieved by taking an easier load, which results in a higher GPA but doesn't make you the brightest kid in the graduating class. <em>snark, snark</em></p>

<p>At our high school the recognition is appreciated, but the annual awards presentation is dreaded by all, parents and kids. It's over-long, dull, and lacking in the kind of planning that could turn it from a 3.5 hour extravaganza into a more manageable 2-hour evening. Like, why not reserve the seats on the aisle for the kids who are receiving multiple awards, or the Science Olympiad team, whose recognition is always lengthy? At least then half of the evening won't be watching what looks like a mosh pit while kids struggle in and out of the center seats. </p>

<p>The organizers invite honorees and their parents to the ceremony, but don't tell them which awards they've received ahead of time. Kinda like the Oscars, but not as funny. If I could change one aspect of our awards night, it would be this. There's some inevitable disappointment, as when someone thinks they have a shot at being valedictorian but find out they're getting a good citizenship award from the guidance department instead. If kids know ahead of time, they can get their good sportsmanship face on, and maybe their parents could do the same thing. I think the school believes that there would be a poor turnout if people knew ahead of time which awards they'd received. This may be true, but I'd rather have an enthusiastic audience of people who really want to be there.</p>

<p>After enduring many of these events, I'd suggest to the OP that the awards presented at her school be significant ones. Our school presents its own subject-area awards, local scholarships, and awards from other organizations (i.e., Gold Key art awards, recognitions from the National Latin exam, NMF recipients, etc.). It comes to more than 600 awards every year. Although I'm all for kids being recognized, when there are that many awards - and no explanation, even in the program or online, of what many of them mean - the recognition is pretty superficial.</p>

<p>But good luck to you, GeminiMom. You have a good heart to take this on.</p>

<p>Our school has a lot of different things ranging from a mention in the daily announcements, a story on the school website, informing the local newspaper, to academic letters for letter jackets, recognition at the year end awards ceremony, a "trophy case" of kids that are in the various National Honor Societies, and senior year the top 10% have a formal tea hosted by the school for them and their parents.</p>

<p>Just a comment about the no sports thing--wouldn't that ultimately be a detriment to kids when it comes to college applications?</p>

<p>You don't have any sports teams? How did that happen?</p>

<p>Our weekly newspaper publishes the high school honor roll every semester. I think the kids get some kind of party at school (not sure about this).</p>

<p>For high school kids that have been on the "A" honor roll for the first three quarters, there is a special evening ceremony in the spring. They get called up on stage and they get a certificate and another nice memento. This is well-planned and meaningful.</p>

<p>We also have an honors night at each school. This is actually more meaningful in middle school and elementary than it seems to be in high school. They hand out certificates for outstanding students in each subject, plus recognize other various honors that have come along. However it takes too long, like frazzled said. (I also agree with her that it would be much better for students and parents to know in advance what they have won, or not won, for any public award ceremony.) </p>

<p>For the high school honors night, some of the high school teachers blow this off and others don't. This results in kind of an unfair imbalance, with kids in some classes getting deserved recognition and others not. Also, it would benefit from a written program, with descriptors of what the awards are. Huge honors are indistinguishable from tiny honors; they both get the same attention. The intention is good but it's kind of a mess.</p>

<p>Middle school honor roll was posted in the front hall, but I don't know if they did anything in high school. There's a quarterly newsletter that is mailed to the parents that always has academic awards (National Merit etc results, Sci Olympiad medal winners, Academic team wins etc.) There are two award ceremonies in the spring - the slightly less prestigious one is during the day and is for all the classes, they do AMC awards, junior college book awards, and maybe the departmental awards. (They all blur together!) The evening was is only for seniors except for some reason there's always one junior there who gets awarded the RPI medal. That ceremony has the top 25 students, and all the community scholarships. Things like every art organization in town and at least one gallery have their own art award for $50. Both ceremonies last for hours. (There area about 700 students in the graduating class and a lot of awards.)</p>

<p>The striking thing about the whole business is the good citizenship type awards and the business awards get money (often lots of it), while the academic awards either get useless plaques or weird trophies and pieces of paper and no cash at all. Makes it feel like you were stupid to be a good student.</p>

<p>At our large public high school we have a Renaissance Honor Roll Program with very clear guidelines. Gold is 4.0+, Silver is 3.75+, and Bronze is 3.50+ for each trimester. I think there is also Green for raising grades or maybe 3.0 minimum. Each semester they are given a hot dog, chips, and drink lunch and a packet of coupons... area merchants offer discounts or soda with meal, etc. Gold gets front of the line lunch pass, there is one homework waiver, etc.</p>

<p>Also, there are two Academic Awards ceremonies in February and September (for previous spring semester.) ASB sponsors this ceremony. Only students with 3.75 and up are invited to attend. They earn their block letter and small badges to stitch on it and a certificate. If all semesters of high school are 3.75 and above, they earn their academic sash to wear with cap and gown at graduation. School board members attend this ceremony, the jazz band performs, an Awards program is given to families, a balloon arch festoons the risers each class stands upon. Afterwords cookies and cake are available as awardees pick up their "letter" packets. Also, photo ops are encouraged. This ceremony takes less than 1 hour and is held in the gym in the evening.</p>

<p>Finally, a Senior Awards Ceremony is held in the auditorium 2 nights before graduation. Sashes and cords for community service, CSF, Academies, etc are awarded. Special scholarships are announced, etc. Overall, lots of structured and well-planned recognition.</p>

<p>Some liberal arts colleges offer "book awards" from their alumni clubs which are given to top high school students in their junior years in an effort to entice them to consider applying to said colleges. It's not a huge deal, but I think the student's enjoy being recognized and put on the radar of the colleges. The school where I work gives out the Swarthmore and Smith book awards but I imagine there are others available if you contact alumni clubs. Just a thought...</p>

<p>Alternate view here. Why do you need to do more than you are doing? Just acknowledge the students at school. Perhaps give them a certificate or something at the end of the year. I'm probably the ONLY parent on the planet who HATED going to those honors awards ceremonies...hated them. We went to see our kid get an award but really, if they hadn't had this evening event, we would NOT have been disappointed. It was the same kids that got the awards term after term...sorry...didn't need to add to that.</p>

<p>It's not just the smaller LACs that give out book awards. I know Cornell and Harvard also give book awards at our school.</p>

<p>OP here. Thanks for giving me some food for thought! </p>

<p>I think honor roll at our school starts at 3.0 and includes more kids than not. Our NMFs are barely acknowledged at an irregularly-held end-of-year ceremony which has ranged from being worth attending to being a disaster. I believe we have had a couple of book awards in the past.</p>

<p>thumper -- the way it's being done now with the occasional ice cream sandwich doesn't really do much for the kids. I know there are a lot of schools that are more thoughtful in their recognition efforts than ours and it seems that more can be done. I don't disagree that I have sat through some seriously lame award ceremonies over the years, but I also think that it is appropriate to make an attempt to establish a worthwhile recognition program. The official position is that the school prides itself on its academic successes, but you would never know it.</p>

<p>Skyhook -- our school does not have a designated attendance area and pulls from all over our large city. It was established at an old elementary site with no sports fields in the late 70s to focus on college prep (in a good way) when other district schools were not. However, students have the option to play sports at their "home" school (assigned by address). It's a different process, but it seems to work out.</p>

<p>My daughter was a top 10 student in her high school. We attended a nice reception with the Board of Education. BUT my daughter says the HIGHLIGHT of the evening was a gift card to Dunkin' Donuts. Each of the top 10 students got that...and she said that was a home run.</p>

<p>Both of my kids felt that the awards ceremonies were a total waste of their time. DS got many nice awards but said it was more important to be acknowledged by the TEACHERS in that area of study than to stand in front of a crowd, most of whom didn't even understand what his awards were about (he was a musician).</p>

<p>DD, while being a top 10 student, never received an academic award in high school. She got other awards but not any academic ones. She says...don't waste the KID's time with another thing to attend in the evening. That's a 20 something talking.</p>

<p>I think you need to figure out who you are really doing this FOR. It sounds like the PARENTS want something. My bet is that if you surveyed the kids, they would think order out pizza once a term was fine.</p>

<p>You could announce the national merit finalists over the P.A. system. Or if an academic team wins a state championship, you could put a banner somewhere. In the gymnasium, they have banners of every regional and state distinction which the bball team has achieved over the past two decades. There's no reason not to catalogue the same thing in the hallway. Perhaps with some sort of plaque for a great achievement with the names on it. Make the best students feel they are part of some tradition which will endure after they leave.</p>

<p>Thumper-you mean some people like going to those awards ceremonies. I thought that most parents were of the same mind, BORING but you have to go because, well, it's your kid. Seriously though, DD's friend's parents have NEVER attended anything she has done-awards ceremonies, band concerts, nothing...that's sad.</p>

<p>Trade Starbucks for DD (no DD here) and same would go here...</p>

<p>I'm with you MN...please...do NOT make me sit through ANY kind of ceremony no matter HOW meaningful you might think it is. Just acknowledge the KID quietly.</p>

<p>One local high school has a breakfast for honor roll scholars about a week after grades come out each quarter. The teachers do the cooking. It's nice, kids enjoy the chance to chat with teachers, and it's something special.</p>

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One local high school has a breakfast for honor roll scholars about a week after grades come out each quarter

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<p>This is quite common, and it's a good idea. I think most schools do it once a year.</p>

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BORING but you have to go

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<p>Amen, that goes for football banquets, lacrosse banquets, NHS assemblies, honors convocation. It's fun for about 10 seconds when they say your kid's name and about 15 seconds when the coach/teacher/speaker says a few words. The ONLY event that I went to that meant a whole lot to me was my oldest son's college commencement..now that is an accomplishment worth beaming and I'm sure I'll feel the same way about #2 and #3 if and when they go through commencement. Oh I just remembered...elementary spelling bees were very compelling and not boring...more scary than anything several times I had my head between my legs so I wouldn't faint.</p>

<p>We have a "students of the month" during the school year which I particularly like because generally it is varied....not always the top kid that everyone knows about.... some real feel good surprises. One boy and one girl. Although there are athletes of course this is more about recognition overall. Sort of like "holistic admissions" LOL. The teachers vote, do the write-up and it is always enlightening when you read the blurb in the newspaper since as parents you rarely know everything about everyone.</p>