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Boston and Beyond

March 21, 2013

School nixes honors night - too 'devastating' for those not honored

IPSWICH — John Gillis has two students at the middle school who have worked hard to make the honor roll this year, but they won’t be able to attend the school’s annual honors night to celebrate their achievement.

That’s because the school administration has decided to end the long-standing tradition in favor of recognizing students during an assembly attended by all students. During the assembly, students will be given awards for academics, sports, arts and everything in between.

“We took it from an exclusive nighttime ceremony where only honors students were invited and rolled it into our end-of-the-year assembly,” Principal David Fabrizio said. “That way, everybody can celebrate their and their peers’ achievements.”

In a letter sent home to parents last week, Fabrizio said that it is the school’s job to monitor both academic and social emotional growth. Concentrating on grades, “as strange as it sounds, can impinge upon the learning process,” he wrote.

“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.

Fabrizio emphasized that the school hasn’t ended honors recognition and that it believes in high achievement in all aspects of students’ lives.

“We are still honoring success, we are just doing it in a different form,” he said.

However, the idea of ending honors night isn’t sitting well with many parents.

“I think the school should be committed to excellence and not mediocrity,” Gillis said. “I was shocked because to get on the honor roll, you have to work hard. They shouldn’t cancel (honors night) because somebody’s feelings could be hurt. Life is a competition, and they should start competing.”

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