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Graduation ceremony is for those who earn it

May 29, 2010
Morning Journal News

When did walking with your class during graduation ceremonies change from being a privilege you earned to a sacred right you were somehow born with?

A group of Beaver Local school district parents and students this week carried signs protesting a policy prohibiting students who failed the state graduation test from participating in graduation ceremonies - a policy that has been in place for years at Beaver Local and elsewhere.

The Ohio Graduation Test is first administered to students during their sophomore year, so those who fail have two more years to retake it and pass. Some of the protesters argued that some of these banned students have grade point averages in excess of 3.0. So what? Everyone knows high school GPAs are meaningless because of grade inflation and that's why colleges look only at ACT and SAT scores when measuring academic performance. Beaver Local is a perfect example of this. That district regularly graduates 12 to 22 valedictorians (20 this year) when there used to be only one.

The protesting parents and students are like the people who operate the youth sports leagues that don't keep score and reward trophies to every participant, regardless of ability, because they don't want to hurt anyone's self-esteem. Instead of acknowledging achievement, we now celebrate the mediocrity of parity for the sake of being politically correct.

And what life lesson does this impart to these high school students as they prepare to enter the adult world: You don't have to play by the rules and you can expect to be rewarded for being an underachiever.

Somewhere along the way these kids will be in for a rude awakening when the reality that life isn't a bowl of cherries comes crashing down. Why not let them have a real life experience as they cross the threshold into adulthood. Make-believe graduation ceremonies are for preschoolers and eighth-graders. High school commencement ceremonies should be reserved for those who are truly graduating and have earned a diploma.



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