Each June, the entire Upper School comes together to honor the academic excellence of the highest performing students in the school. Although this tradition has been at Academy for decades, in recent years it has attracted considerable criticism from both students and some faculty. The problems lies not in the talent, but in the fact that some students seem to attract such a disproportionate amount of praise. Within minutes of the 2011 assembly, this problem became abundantly clear to all in the theater when a handful of students were called back to the stage time and time again as their classmates looked on. It would be no exaggeration to say that by the end there were a few seniors who could not have held all of their trophies in their outstretched arms if they had wanted to. To be clear, the Life does not wish to take away from the effort and pride these students put into their work. To the contrary, we greatly appreciated all they have done in and out the classroom. We do feel, however, many other students also did so much in their four years of high school but were not recognized at all. In such a competitive environment, where there is no second place, how can the system possibly be fair in its recognition? The simple answer is that it is not.On the premise that the Awards Assembly will be inherently unequal, it must, then, be changed. This is no easy task. Take, for example, Cum Laude Society. What if one student has a GPA that is .01 lower than a competitor, yet there are only specific spots for the top 10 percent? How do you tell the students with the lower average that because they got an A-, not and A, in freshman year Health they will not be inducted? How do you decide between an active participant with great grades in a subject and a non-active participant who gets perfect grades in the same subject?
The solution is not yet clear. Some say give fewer awards. Some say give more. One popular opinion seems to be to cancel the assembly altogether and either distribute awards at a more routine assembly or not at all. We, as a community, simply cannot let such a huge portion of the senior class walk out of a mandatory assembly empty-handed year after year.