Give pupils the honors they deserve

Our best and brightest

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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.

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dstewartsr 02/03/10 - 10:00 am
I agree with Mr. Maner on

I agree with Mr. Maner on this assessment; schools have become little more than adjuncts for athletics. If you believe that is an overstatement do what works best in business: A cost analysis. See which students are receiving the most tax dollars. Labs that have no test tubes or crucibles are the norms; football teams without several sets of uniforms as well as complete sets of armor for the game are the rarity. AP classes often have to meet in the cafeteria (if the school is old enough to have a dedicated space) while multimillion (tax) dollar stadia are attached to each school - right behind the school next to a shantytown of trailers, daintily labelled as 'portables.' Coaches -at least a half dozen or so- work half days on game days. Who teaches their classes? The system hires substitutes to teach while the coaches do something more important than teaching history, or language or other relatively unimportant subjects.

Who benefits? Not the schools. The youths playing at sports? Precisely how? They learn one lesson: being good at child's games allows them to pass through life as a celebrity, given passes on arrogant behaviour and given special 'help' academically. At least until their "glory days" end. There is always the argument that we are teaching fair play, cooperation and sportsmanship. Really? Really? Have you seen that? The only result I can see is schools becoming farm teams for colleges which make millions from their student-athletes. Going back to my cost benefit analysis, just how many students benefit from the millions spent on athletics? One hundred? Two hundred? Out of a student body of two thousand? Good thinking.

disssman 02/05/10 - 09:16 pm
Afew years ago I became

Afew years ago I became aquainted with a young black man I will call Mr. T. Now Mr. T was about 6 foot 4 inches of pure muscle. He weighed about 250 pounds and no fat. As I got to know him I found out he has two kids and was a graduate of Hephzibah H.S. The thing that amazed me was he could not read or write and had no grasp of basic numbers ( couldn't add, subtract or multiply). Basically he was illiterate. But a more honest, gentleman you would never find and a friend of the best kind. Well I figured out my son was in the same school as Mr.T so I asked him what he knew of the fellow. He said that because of his size everyone was actually afraid of "T" and "T" was a very important member of the football team, but he could not remember the gentleman ever causing trouble. I lost touch with "T" years ago but have never forgotten him. I also don't understand how a system placed so much emphasis on sports that education falls to the wayside. We as a community need good people like "T" and we need to insure people like him are prepared for a future beyond 12th grade football.

corgimom 02/07/10 - 11:51 am
In my day, everyone learned

In my day, everyone learned fair play, cooperation, and sportsmanship just fine and it didn't cost millions of dollars. How is it that we spend millions of dollars on football stadiums for an 11-person game? Football is profitable? What has to be foregone to get that stadium? Are the kids there to get an education, or are they there to play a game? When did sports get to be more important than academics? The Federal government rates schools and measures students on tests, not their win-lose records or how far they can throw a football.

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