Over the weekend, a Rhode Island middle school sent a letter to parents explaining that a traditional honors night had been eliminated because rewarding students who do well is “exclusive.”
By Tuesday, in the face of embarrassing national ridicule, officials at Archie R. Cole Middle School in the affluent, suburban town of East Greenwich had reinstituted the honors night, Fox News reports.
“Honors Night has been a longstanding tradition in our community,” the cancelling weekend email from Principal Alexis Meyer explained, according to Providence ABC affiliate WLNE.
Worried educators had fretted about it for years, though.
“Members of the school community have long expressed concerns related to the exclusive nature of Honors Night,” the letter stated. Thus, teachers and bureaucrats made a “collective decision to recognize students during team-based recognition ceremonies” instead.
“This will afford us the opportunity to celebrate the individual and collective successes of all students and their effort, progress, and excellence,” the missive explained. “Additionally, our Cole varsity athletes will receive their medals and trophies at an after school ceremony.”
The last paragraph cheerfully said, “Best wishes for a nice weekend.”
A statement released on Tuesday indicated that school officials had changed their tune dramatically.
“We have decided to honor excellence as we had planned, but at a traditional evening event,” the statement on the school’s website said, according to Fox News. “We are exceedingly proud of the outstanding achievements of Cole students, and obviously had no intention of failing to acknowledge and celebrate exemplary student accomplishment in its many forms.”
Outrage from parents and students that was trumpeted on the local news probably had something to do with the about-face.
“How else are they supposed to learn coping skills, not just based on success, but relative failure?” peeved parent Joe Kosloski rhetorically asked a WLNE reporter. “It might not be failure, but understand what it takes to achieve high levels.”
Kosloski’s eighth-grade daughter, Kaitlyn, agreed. She said she wasn’t invited to honors night last year, but the thought of missing it this year was one thing that helped her focus on academics.
“That made me want to work harder and a lot of other people work harder, so just the fact you can’t work towards it anymore, then there is no goal,” the middle schooler told the ABC affiliate.