Awards, Anxiety, & the Teachable Moment

Dear Families,

As Mr. Tremblay mentioned last week, our annual awards ceremony will take place in St. Joseph Center on June 4 beginning at 6 p.m.  We are making a slight change to the format – the grade 1-5 awards will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by a brief intermission and concluding with grade 6-11 awards at 6:45 p.m. – which we hope will allow those with younger kiddos to be home earlier.

To be perfectly honest, the awards ceremony always causes the faculty a bit of angst.  We try to balance the fact that every student in this school is a unique and extraordinary child of God with our belief that outstanding achievement should be celebrated.  Every year, teachers struggle with determining award winners, mainly, I think, because they see the worth and value in each child.  Truly, every student has qualities that are worthy of recognition, and it is difficult not to acknowledge each one of them.

So, why do we hold an awards ceremony?  All year long, we challenge your children to academic excellence and personal growth, and it is fitting to celebrate their achievements in those areas.  In contrast to the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality, we believe that true accomplishment can be objectively identified and honored. 

We have tried to be thoughtful about the awards we give, ensuring their developmental appropriateness.  In Pre-K and Kindergarten, it makes sense to give each child a certification of completion; as students grow over the years in personal accountability, we honor individual effort and virtue.  Believe me when I say we reflect yearly upon these awards in order to ensure they align with our mission and educational philosophy.

Is it difficult for a child to be passed over for an award, particularly when they feel they have earned it?  Absolutely.  Is it tough for us as parents to see our child upset when they walk away empty handed?  Of course.  But this is truly a teachable moment, and please forgive me if what I am about to say sounds harsh.  This is an opportunity for conversation about the fact that sometimes we work hard and fall short; sometimes we realize we could have worked harder and done more; sometimes we do our best and someone else did a little bit better.  This is a life lesson - granted, a tough one - in which a child can learn that we dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and try harder the next time.  I say this from a place of having had this conversation with my own children; as a mom, it breaks my heart to see them disappointed but as an educator I know this can be a moment of growth which will serve them well as adults.

Families whose child/children are to receive an award will be mailed an invitation to the ceremony.  We do not announce in advance specifically which children are to receive an award.  That being said, we invite all students to come support their classmates in the hope that another takeaway from this ceremony is that of being genuinely happy for our friends (and siblings!) with a generous heart.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this event, and thank you in advance for your support as we celebrate this special evening.


Katie Richardson, Vice Principal