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An ‘unhealthy’ trend

The South Harrison Community School Corp. recently proposed a change to its valedictorian policy that would have all students who graduate with a 4.0 or higher grade-point average (GPA) recognized as valedictorians instead of the student or students with the highest GPA. One of the reasons cited for the change is the old system created ‘unhealthy competition’ for students at or near the top of their class.
Unhealthy and competition are two words that don’t go together unless we’re talking about Olympic training in smog-filled Beijing, China.
Competition drives the success of our country and, no, South Harrison officials aren’t eliminating competition, but it is being softened or watered down.
If the competition has reached an ‘unhealthy’ point, don’t take away the competition. Instead, teach the students to respect their fellow competitor, win or lose. That’s how it works in life. There’s no better learning experience than failure or losing. And the kids the policy will affect are absolutely not failures, but are all great successes at the top of the class.
It’s one thing to be upset about how you’re treated in last place or at the bottom of a class. But to finish third, fourth or fifth in the class and not be happy with the end result is absurd. What about the student who worked just as hard as you ‘ did everything he or she could to get the best grades ‘ but still had just a ‘B’ or ‘C’ average through high school; where’s their award? Life’s not fair. You can’t always get what you want.
South Harrison’s decision, if adopted, won’t cause any drastic changes and is harmless enough, but it does follow a long line of examples of a frightening trend in this country.
Many youth sports leagues have stopped keeping score to protect the feelings of players and to preserve their interest in the game.
First, if someone’s going to lose interest because they aren’t winning, then they are better off hanging it up, because losing and failure is a part of sports, and life for that matter. It’s what makes success so enjoyable and coveted.
And there’s no reason to protect a youngster’s feelings. You’re just delaying the inevitable. Would you rather your son or daughter have a kicking and screaming fit while in elementary school or at center court of a varsity basketball game?
Last month, three prisoners escaped from the medium-security prison in Branchville. Before leading authorities on a seven-day chase, the prisoners are believed to have been surrounded in the wooded area near the prison, even within feet of the search dogs. But, because the trio were wearing khaki-colored jumpsuits, which blended in nicely with the terrain, they were able to evade the authorities. The reason for the khaki color? Believe it or not, the color was chosen to ‘raise the self-esteem of the offenders.’ I wonder what being a prisoner at a medium-security facility does for their self-esteem.
Branchville plans to take the proper steps to correct the problem, and I hope others follow their lead.
South Harrison’s policy change won’t have the negative effect of a khaki-colored jumpsuit, but a small change can lead to another and another and eventually something’s missing or an unintended end wholly discounts the means.

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