Give pupils the honors they deserve

Our best and brightest

After working as a public school educator for many years, I thought that it was imperative for me to do something worthwhile and meaningful in support of those bright, talented and sincere academic pupils with beautiful minds before I departed from the public school system. For too long, those scholarly pupils never received the highest of positive recognition for being outright smart.


I've long been an avid reader of USA Today . This newspaper annually selects an all-American high-school scholastic team of the best and brightest pupils from across the United States. So the idea came to me that such a meaningful program of education recognition could be duplicated for high-school pupils throughout the CSRA to promote, enhance and enrich strong academic performances.

In all of the years I taught in the local public school system, I observed that many public school officials strongly focused upon athletics programs and were never as sincere and serious about scholastic programs or academic achievement for their pupils. When many of those pupils were no longer participating in sports, they had problems coping because they had been overly consumed with athletics, and were never encouraged to be winners at life. Isn't it time for public school systems throughout America stop the pimping methodology of high-school athletes?

If I was going to be successful to acquire a positive scholastic recognition program for high-school pupils, it would be necessary for me to contact someone or some organization that truly cared about high academic performance and excellence for all high-school pupils. I met with Dennis Sodomka, who at the time was the executive editor for The Augusta Chronicle .

I explicitly explained to him that I felt there weren't enough positive things being done throughout the CSRA community to expose, acknowledge and honor many of the high-school pupils who had beautiful minds. Also, I pointed out that if pupils are superstar athletes, they're anointed with sensational publicity. On the other hand, pupils with the intelligence and talents of a Dr. Ben Carlson, the renowned black neurosurgeon, go unnoticed and remain in obscurity because no positive, special or significant attention is given to those pupils by public school officials or the media.

I told Mr. Sodomka that I thought neglecting those smart and talented pupils was insane. He was in agreement and receptive to my concerns. I laid out my written agenda along with a chart as to how a scholastic recognition program could be implemented. Mr. Sodomka accepted my information.

Since then, The Chronicle has developed what is now known as the CSRA 25 Best and Brightest high school students. The Chronicle has spotlighted 25 high-school pupils for the past seven years, and this scholastic acknowledgement program has been a big hit through out the CSRA. This has been a wonderful and beautiful thing.

I physically no longer work in the public school education arena, but my mind is still there. Therefore, I truly would like to see all public middle and high schools establish Best and Brightest scholastic education programs to promote school scholastic success for all pupils. I'm convinced that such positive academic presence would do a great deal to foster a positive academic environment for all pupils.

It's really sad for me to think that more people outside of the education arena seem to care more about promoting positive academic learning than those public school officials who are being paid to educate pupils. What is wrong with this picture?

The writer is a former Richmond County public school teacher with 31 years of teaching service. He lives in Augusta.