June 30, 2013

Editorial: Celebrating top students


---- — Everyone knows the fervor created by local athletic contests; if only people could be as excited about academic champions.

They are the true stars of our schools and colleges, but we know their achievements are not celebrated on as universal a level or in as public a manner.

Over the years, little has raised the ire of Press-Republican newsroom personnel as much as being told: “All you care about is sports. Why don’t you give some attention to the other students?” The reason we find that so irritating is that it is patently untrue.

Our reporters have written many, many feature articles over the years about students, individually and in teams, who have earned state or national recognition.

While many newspapers have eliminated listings such as Honor Rolls, due to space constraints, we continue to make room for those. Schools can submit lists of their honor students in grades 6 through 12.

We also have a repeating Students column, which tells about academic achievements by people from our area, whether they are attending local schools and colleges or institutions in other places. Those writeups can be submitted by the educational institutes or parents.

Area colleges know to send us their Dean’s Lists and releases about other awards.

And in today’s Spectrum section, the Press-Republican features its annual listing of the valedictorians and salutatorians from schools in our region. It was reported by our education writer, Ashleigh Livingston, and we can assure you that it isn’t easy to coordinate information and photos from more than 25 schools.

The reason we devote so much space to this type of news is that we truly believe that who really hits the books is just as important as who hits the home runs — more so, of course, in the scope of life.

One of our editors noticed, while attending a graduation in Richford, Vt., that the high school there has an interesting way to honor its top students, something usually demonstrated in this public way only for athletes. Its gym is lined with the usual banners proclaiming the athletes and teams that have won championships. But sitting proudly alongside those are two banners of the same style: one listing the names of the valedictorian for each year and another with the salutatorians.

A note at the bottom of the banners reveals that they were donated as a present from the senior class for the year the list was started. Each spring, a new year and student name is added.

What a great idea — to put top student achievement on the same level as a sports championship. It is an idea that some local schools might want to adopt.

People all around the North Country just attended high-school and college graduations. We hope everyone made it clear to each of those students that they have achieved something noteworthy and have brought pride to their families, themselves and their communities.