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Academic All-Stars Special, Too

April 15, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

You've probably seen it dozens of times: a winning team in a row as each of its young members go down the line getting a series of high-fives.

This was different. Sports had nothing to do with it. The youngsters, eighth graders at Tyler Consolidated Middle School, were celebrating each other's academic achievements.

I've never seen anything like it - but it certainly would be nice to see it more often.

We celebrate young athletes frequently and with enthusiasm. But kids who do well in the classroom too often are an afterthought, if we bother to recognize them at all.

For 34 years now, First Federal Savings Bank of Sistersville has sponsored academic awards ceremonies, complete with dinner, for students in Tyler County and Paden City schools. When the events started a third of a century ago, there was nothing like them in West Virginia. Since then, I've heard of a few other special programs, sometimes sponsored by businesses or organizations, to honor high-achieving students.

The students I saw celebrating were among those at First Federal's event last week, honoring academic achievers in grades 5-8. Another one for those in grades 9-12 is scheduled for Thursday.

One reason I think the eighth graders were high-fiving each other is that they understood the event honoring them was not just a formality, conducted because someone decided scholarship ought to be recognized. Parents turned out just as they would have for an end-of-season sports banquet. The bank spent lots of money on the event. A substantial number of educators were there.

Hey, the kids may have thought, this is serious. Our community really thinks we've done something worthy of special recognition.

And indeed they have.

We need more of this - but it's difficult to arouse the interest people take for granted when sports is involved. A reader who called several weeks ago put it in perspective. We have all-valley and all-state athletic teams, he pointed out. Why don't we have all-valley and all-state scholars?

That's a good question. It wouldn't be difficult to choose members of such "teams." So why hasn't it been done?

Is it because we don't care about academic excellence as much as we claim?

Myer can be reached at:

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