As Parent-Teacher conferences begin, parents and students alike more carefully scrutinize students’ grades. It would be against our aims as a community to say that grades are meaningless. More than just letters on a scale, the grades represent effort, participation, progress, and accomplishment. Not all students who work hard get perfect scores, but all students who get good grades must work hard.
While we must assess academic achievement based on standards and rubrics, we must recognize that other areas also distinguish our students. Some students are athletes who dedicate fifteen hours to their sport each week. Some are givers who participate in Creative Crafts for Cancer or Hoplite Helpers who donate time to visit the elderly. We have Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, singers and runners, actors and chess players. Our students possess a diverse array of skills and specialties. “Student” is their primary, but rarely their only, occupation.
Alumni, while making the grades to graduate, discovered that Ridgeview is not only about grades. According to Trevor Robinson ’12, being a Ridgeview student is about participation: “If someone isn’t acting on what they learn, they will not learn near so much as they learn by doing. This goes for the discussions in literature and history, as well as doing the equations and formulas in math and science. Grades will come if one is an active participant in learning…Grades won’t stick around, what is learned will.”
Similarly, LauraAnn Schmidberger ’14 believes “education” and “good grades” are not entirely synonymous. “During my time at Ridgeview, I was often stressed about grades, but now that I’m in college I realize that it didn’t matter how many A’s [or] B’s I got, it mattered that I had good discussion, it mattered that I learned how to care about learning, and it mattered that I learned to connect with people (both my peers and my teachers) over discussions about ideas.” The grades, although representative of many factors, are not the education themselves, nor should they be the goal of education.
Jasom Al Adsani ’15 emphasizes that Ridgeview cultivates thought: “Ridgeview excels at producing individuals…This does not mean ignominiously disregarding the facts or the text, but, instead, Ridgeview encourages the student to think and interpret.” A student who can explain a moral dilemma (including what makes it a moral dilemma and what makes it worth contemplating) has advanced more in his education than a student who cannot explain these. Amanda Evans ’13 corroborates: “I learned the most when we were told to form an opinion and defend it against our peers.” Exchanging ideas, rather than receiving grades, marks a true student of the liberal arts.
Thus, our community celebrates with those who have accomplished much, and support those who long for improvement. As a member of that community, I hope grades are never the best of who you are. Mr. Busek explains that greatness and goodness are two distinct things. A great student who lacks goodness is perhaps the greatest disappointment while a great student who is also good represents the best of what Ridgeview strives to be.