Sunday, June 19, 2005

With Honors

This time of year reminds me of my high school graduation. I sat there in my seat surrounded by my fellow graduates. As they announced the names, I mentally ordered myself not to trip while walking up to get my diploma. That was not enough to block out the announcements which lit a fire of fury inside me. The 5 preceding girls' names had little memos attached to their names, "______ _______, with honors...._______ ______, with honors...and it went on to "Me, [long pause]and continued _______ _______, with honors." Oh, and all the little jobs they had, too, "G.O. President, Chesed head..." (all that stuff that I didn't want anyway because they don't let you do ANYTHING!)

Thanks a lot lady! So not only did I want to burst out crying, think about my parents, and the other 15 people whose grades weren't announced in front of 300 people. We felt like garbage. We had to face our families in the audience after the ceremony. Nobody could forget that audible silence, which seemed to say, "She didn't achieve a 95 GPA, so she's stupid..." Well, I'm SO-RRY that I couldn't memorize every Gadol's lineage back to the Avos. And every female's maiden name along the line. The other girls must have also had tough critics to face. Can you imagine what shame, guilt, and anxiety fell over us? All that horrible negative, hurtful emotion-just to honor the smart kids who already know they're smart? They can read. They see their report card, is that not good enough?

I graduated from a class of 40. According to my calculations, which might not be accurate-for obvious reasons- 15 girls didn't graduate "with honors." In which case, keep your mouth shut. If it's the other way around, go right ahead, show off, especiallyt if I'm one of them, but when it's such a majority, SHUT UP.

12 Comments:

At 6/20/2005 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well is it possible that you are just overly sensitive! how do you know that the other 15 girls felt the same way you did? If girls did well in high school why cant they be honored?

 
At 6/20/2005 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous #1:
Girls who did well in high school could and should be honored-but not at the expense (and a great expense it is) of others. There are many ways that they are honored, but maybe this is just not an appropriate one. And anyway, what kind of honor is it if 3/4 of the grade got it? So basically, the girls who were "with honors" were not honored, and those who weren't were greatly shamed. What's the gain? And even if Michelle is the only one who felt this way-the gain (which i'm not sure even exists) is FAR outweighed by the loss.

 
At 6/20/2005 8:16 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

To anonymous #1- I may not have made this clear, but many of my friends graduated with honors, and were also upset about what they did. They mentioned it to me right away after the graduation. It was quite obvious. Nothing filled that silence.
To anonymous #2-thanks for defending me! You are highlighting part of my point that it is no honor if they are a majority. That is why I said that if there is a small percentage, I would not mind. So there, Anon #1--it's not that I'm oversensitive, I would not have minded if there were 10 not 25.
Besides, most of the kids who did well in high school were honored in other ways. They were beloved, selected for all the jobs, and generally known to be "better." So whatever.

 
At 6/20/2005 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle, you sound like a liberal trying to punish the achievers, trying to eliminate competition. You prefer a more socialist attitude, where everyone is the same. I say, let them (the geniuses) have their moment in the sun, and let the others either work harder to achieve more, or accept that God did not grant them incredible intelligence scholastically speaking. Should a person never get married because it's an afront to all the older singles out there? Maybe it's wrong to have kids because so many others out there are unable to. By walking around with your kids, you're announcing to the world that you have kids and they don't.

If you'll countrargue that it's different because a couple without kids or an older single suffers due to circumstances beyond their control, I'll say, thank you - you've proven my point. Hashem gives everyone different abilities. If you can't make the grade, take it up with the Man upstairs.

 
At 6/20/2005 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHOA!! Aren't we being a little harsh, anonymous? Michelle's suggestion is neither liberal nor socialist. For a socialist view, try reading Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s "Harrison Bergeron."

All Michelle wants is to be spared some unnecessary embarrassment. I'm sure she was already the underdog the rest of the year, and I'm equally certain that the geniuses have had more than one moment in the sun and do not need this insignificant show of approval(in fact, they probably have a nasty sunburn by now). She's not asking to be treated like a genius if she isn't one-just not to be so totally ashamed in such a public forum. It's just not fair. Yeah, yeah, you'll give me the old "life's not fair" but that doesn't mean we have to make it any more unfair than it already it is.

G-d, in His infinite wisdom, deemed it appropriate that we each be given different abilities. Being that school principals are not G-d (contrary to some people's belief), nor do they have infinite wisdom, who are they to dare play with people's feelings like that?

 
At 6/20/2005 2:48 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Anonymous #4 thank you for defending me, and I agree with what you said, wholeheartedly. These girls are "sunburnt" as you put it. They were always favored, always chosen, blah, blah, blah.
Now, to anonymous #3, I'm not saying these people shouldn't get credit for what they have achieved. Either make the standards higher so there are fewer girls, or read a list of names separately (also less than 25 girls) so that the silence is not so audible. Besides, all their jobs are listed in the yearbook in the pictures and all, and usually the people that know they are smart know it already and don't need to hear it again. Their parents know, and it's nice to hear it again, but what about the parents (like mine) who had to look down in shame as that almost meaningless phrase, "with honors" is omitted by their daughter's name.

 
At 6/21/2005 5:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's me, anonymous #3 again. I'm sorry, but you did not disprove my point. According to your argument, yeshivahs should never honor a rich person. After all, he already had his moments in the sun, so why give him more honor than he deserves? What about the poor people who never get honored?

They need not raise the standards. They had 25 girls work their fannies off to do great work. The other 15 should be happy for their classmates. And again, let the parents of these 15 appreciate the good qualities their daughters possess. Grades aren't everything.

 
At 6/23/2005 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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esthermalkag@gmail.com

 
At 6/23/2005 8:00 PM, Blogger Moiy-rah said...

i hated every minute of Bais Yaakov High School (not the one on 15th ave, but a bais yaakov high school) because it was so impersonal. It was a business, and they didnt give a ______ about me. Someone once called the school to ask about me for shidduch infor the year after i graduated and tehy said that i had never attended their school, How sad is that?

i got no honors by graduation, because i didnt flaunt all teh chessed that i did. I actually had a very nice average, but no one ever paid attention to me. I was just one of 116 girls. yes, and teh girls with money got honors and good jobs. its a sad reality.

But thankfully i'm past taht, never to return and enjoying my life now.

 
At 6/29/2005 4:30 PM, Anonymous Ayelet said...

My high school had a National Honors Society chapter. At graduation those who had a high enough GPA to be a member wore gold tassels on their caps, while everyone else wore the regular purple and white ones. This was an understated way of honoring those people who had the grades while not calling that much attention to it. (I can't imagine that many people sitting in the audience even noticed.)
Also, probably 30% of my grade had these honors. If it was a matter of leaving out 10 people out of 80 I am sure the others would have decided to not wear them, or the school itself would have made this decision since that's just the kind of school it was.

 
At 7/05/2005 8:10 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

When it's 30%, I don't mind. They earned it. It's not a shame to everyone else. I probably would notice the tassels but incorrectly think they're a bunch of putzes that they didn't have enough regular ones, LOL.

 
At 12/22/2005 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I 100% know how you feel, since I was another one of those people left out. And the saddest thing was, I did graduate with honors-it says so on my diploma. But the charming lady who called out the names of the graduates lost the list of those who graduated with honors, so she decided, on her own, who she thought was smart. Since she happened not to like me(c'mayim hapanim lapanim)she decided that I was among the few unpriveliged. Yes, I found it extremely humiliating. & by the way, anonymous, plenty of smart people are blessed with sharp brains & don't put in an ounce of the work that less gifted students have to put in just to maintain an 80 average.

 

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