March 7, 2014

Editorial: Applauding academic all-stars

One of the most irritating comments we hear at the Press-Republican is that all we care about is sports, not academic achievement.

It is irritating because it is so very far from the truth. We challenge anyone to find another local media outlet that devotes the amount of space we do to accomplishments by students.

You can often find articles — some played on A1 — about local students who exhibited their skills at the Regional Science Fair, Model UN competitions, FFA events, MathCounts, Regional Spelling Bee and other academic challenges.

We write features about interesting events, classes and academic programs at area schools.

While many newspapers long ago stopped running honor rolls and dean’s list entries — considering them as taking up valuable space — we feel just the opposite: That they are of high value to students, their families, the schools — and the community.

Recognition fosters pride. A sense of worth, a feeling of accomplishment can be the inspiration that students need to push themselves to do better.

Smart students are good for the North Country. They contribute now in their schools — and sometimes they stay here or return and contribute again as adults to the broader community. They are more likely to do that if they felt valued as children.

Certainly, you will see more school sports coverage in the newspaper than academics. After all, at least a couple, sometimes dozens, of sporting events take place just about every weeknight.

And, yes, we do value what athletics do to cultivate a well-rounded student. We support that part of a school’s budget because studies show that participating in sports teaches teamwork, develops leadership skills, promotes good health, hones focus and builds school and community spirit.

As far as audience participation goes, sporting events win hands-down. You don’t, unfortunately, see crowds of uninvolved people turn out for academic events, the way you do for games. Parents, grandparents and a few friends might attend, but rarely will someone with no ties show up for events that showcase or challenge the brain.

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