There was an interesting little bit in the news last week about a junior high school awards event that brought some unwanted consequences. Apparently, teachers involved in the academic honors program at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Texas, near Houston decided to hold a mock ceremony.
Now, I have attended several awards ceremonies over the years with children and now grandchildren. I applaud the recognition given our young people for their achievements. I really enjoy seeing praise given to students for exhibiting admirable character traits.
The fact is, the youngster of today have been awarded and recognized continually since they began attending preschool. By the time they have reached junior high, these ceremonies have become somewhat expected and passé to them.
Most certainly, the teachers in this advanced program understood and decided to have a mock ceremony for fun. One seventh-grader, described as a model student, was given the “most likely to become a terrorist” award. Naturally, the teachers laughed when it was presented. The student was shocked and, as to be expected, her mother saw no humor in the entire thing at all. The student became so upset and humiliated by the entire event, she has refused to return to school.
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Two honor classes participated in the fake ceremony and several fake awards were presented. One girl was awarded “most likely to cry for every little thing” while another young man was recognized as “most likely to become homeless.”
Needless to say, the parents are outraged and have complained to the school administration. The school district has issued a formal apology and has disciplined the teachers. Of course, that isn’t enough for some parents as they are calling for the teachers involved to be fired.
Personally, I think the idea of a fake ceremony is great. The planners however, made a few strategic errors. First, and foremost, they assumed that junior high kids could take a joke. Oh, they know how to tease and make fun, but they are not yet mature enough to actually laugh at themselves. Honor students are used to receiving nothing but praise and their young minds simply cannot fathom the notion of a fake, pretend, absolutely opposite award.
Next, the administration needed to be let in on the surprise. The principal and most likely, the superintendent needed to know what was going to happen. They also needed to know that the teachers were doing this for the amusement of the students and to poke fun at the never-ending parade of recognition that is hurled at these tender young minds.
Finally, the parents needed to be informed and invited to join in the fun. It needed to be clearly and fully explained that the humor lies in the fact that the presented certificates represented the exact opposite of what the faculty anticipated for the future. Once the parents understood that, if they really would have, it could have made a bad situation much more palatable.
We need to instill in ourselves and our young people the ability to laugh, especially at ourselves. I love a good joke, especially when it’s on me. I very much enjoy trading barbs and quips with my friends and I expect to be on the receiving end of some of those little comments. I tell friends that put-downs toward me are accepted, but they will be graded.
When is the last time you had a really good laugh — at yourself?