Give kudos, support to academic achievement

By Larry Marks, Brookings resident March 22, 2013 08:28 pm

By Larry Marks 


Between the high school, Azalea Middle School, and Fern Avenue, there are acres of playing fields on which students of District 17-C display athletic skills. 

A canopied grandstand ensures that fans of the Bruins football team can attend four or five football games each season out of the rain. The high school gym has seating for hundreds of basketball fans; the scoreboards for each of these athletic courts are electronically powered, and are visible for great distances. 

I wonder what former Bruin athletes as a group have contributed to the society in which they live, whether within or extraneous to the parameters of athletics. 

I have less reason to wonder about the likelihood of contributions that have been made, or might eventually be made, by standouts in another area that lies within the scope of the business of public education — namely academic standouts. And I shook my head at the disparity and wondered why society is so reluctant to even acknowledge academic performance. 

I just attended a Knowledge Bowl competition held among top students from BHHS and several other high schools. One phase of the competition was held in a room not much larger than a closet. The participants were crowded around makeshift tables and electronic registering systems with cords running to and fro; their scoreboards consisted of a sheets of butcher paper tacked up against chalkboards, with entries being made by fellow students with felt markers. There was room for perhaps a dozen spectators — but most of the chairs were unoccupied. Attendees consisted primarily of the parents and grandparents of participating students. 

We all like to be recognized, admired, and appreciated. We often read of declining test scores on SATs, and other standard monitoring devices. And mostly, we rail at the failure of the teachers to motivate and instruct their charges. Would we not be more likely to see improvement if we would give the status to academic standouts that we give all-state athletes? 

Let’s commend the teachers and parents who have prepared these students with the academic essentials, poise, and confidence that enable them to display academic mastery in such unspectacular circumstances and surroundings. 

These students have set their sights on loftier targets than athletic accolades and championship trophies. Let’s give them, their instructors, and their parents the recognition and praise they so richly deserve.