My son the valedictorian will graduate from high school this afternoon, and the event has been shrouded by a lively controversy: should students who did not pass all sections of the state graduation test be allowed to march in graduation even if they can't receive a diploma? Most schools do not allow students to march in graduation unless they've passed the test, but my son's school decided to be different this year and let 'em march. Of 52 seniors, three did not pass the test, but they will still be allowed to participate in graduation.
The local paper has been printing abundant articles and editorials and letters, some coherent and some less so, but I have a hard time getting worked up about the topic. I graduated from a high school where students who did not pass the state test received a Certificate of Attendance instead of a diploma, but there were more than 700 people in my graduating class so it's unlikely anyone was aware of the contents of those diploma cases--except for the students themselves. My son goes to a small school in a small, close-knit community, and the absence of three students out of 52 would be quite obvious. I agree that students who don't earn diplomas shouldn't get diplomas, but I don't really care whether they walk in graduation or not. It's just a ceremony. The real rewards will come later on.
But there's one thing I find quite amusing: last night my son went to the annual alumni banquet, where the alumni association awarded three $500 scholarships to students selected on the basis of criteria known only to the elect, although they do seem to favor athletes and students related to members of the alumni board. The result was that one of those three scholarships went to a student who did not pass the state graduation test.
Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the word "scholar," don't you think?