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Honour Roll Axed At St. Basil Junior High School In Calgary; Parents And Students Upset

10/30/2013 01:14 EDT
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The decision to axe the honour roll at St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School in Calgary was likely done with the best intentions, but parents and students say they aren't happy with the choice.

According to the Calgary Herald, staff at the Catholic school decided earlier this month they would stop naming students to the honour roll - a system often used in schools to identify academic achievement.

It's a move to help protect the pride of students who don't make the cut, the school explained in a letter to parents.

“Awards eventually lose their lustre to students who get them, while often hurting the self-esteem and pride of those who do not receive a certificate," read the letter.

However, unlike Ecole Madeleine d’Houet Junior High School, a Calgary Catholic school that decided to do-away with an end-of-year celebrations for honour roll students last year and, rather, quietly hand out honour certificates, St. Basil's has taken a step further and discontinued award certificates and year-end ceremonies.

Grade 9 student Andreas Winn, who made the honour roll last year, told the Calgary Herald he's upset he won't be awarded for his hard work this year.

“They’re telling us that the one per cent of students or so who have learning problems or the group of students who can’t get on the honour roll outweighs the kids who can,” he said.

“So we should all stoop down to their level so everyone is happy.”

Principal Craig Kittelson, however, told the Herald the decision was made with all students in mind.

“But we just feel that by recognizing everybody in their own personalized way that that can be more positive for all of our kids.”

National Post columnist Kelly McParland suggested perhaps cancelling elections and sports championships as well, calling St. Basil's move "another reflection of the virus sweeping through education systems, in which parents, academics and self-styled gurus constantly seek magic new formulas that overthrow the existing order and somehow render all children as equal."

Naomi Lakritz with the Calgary Herald argues that St. Basil's is "doing its students no favours by padding the corners of their world," and that it is "far better to teach kids that striving is preferable to stagnating."

Calgary Catholic School District spokesperson Janet Corsten told Metro Calgary last year each school determines student awards and recognition and that the trend is for junior high schools to eliminate honour roll and award celebrations.

The situation is reminiscent of Lynden Dorval's firing last year, after the Edmonton teacher refused to subscribe to the school's policy to not give out grades of zero

When Dorval was fired, the board argued that giving a student a zero is counterproductive because it doesn't truly reflect what a student knows about a subject.

The Edmonton Public School Board reversed the "no zero" policy shortly after.

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