Letter to the Editor: on “Useless Competition at SLS”

To the Editor of The Sentinel,

I would like to address my concern over your May 27, 2015 article “Useless Competition at SLS.” I will respond to your proposal to discontinue the Upper School Awards Ceremony, a time-honored St. Luke’s tradition and a place for the school to honor and recognize its best and most hardworking students. Also, competition and stress at St. Luke’s are natural and necessary introductions to the highly competitive college admissions process as well as the job market alumni will face when they graduate. Also, unlike St. Luke’s, the workforce may not prove to be a welcoming and nurturing institution. In short, by sheltering our students, we are doing them a disservice by failing to adequately prepare them for the conditions of the world beyond the Hilltop. If we are to call ourselves a “college preparatory school,” it is imperative that we actually prepare our students and simulate the conditions our alumni face every day.

In your editorial, you argued that the Awards Ceremony is “a cruel and painfully long exhibition that says little more than ‘you’re not good enough.’” The purpose of the Awards Ceremony is twofold. First, it serves as a way to give the students who committed themselves to achieving SLS’s Community Goals for Learning the recognition they rightly deserve after a year of  seeking extra instruction after school, late nights spent studying, and lunches spent in the library preparing for an exam. Secondly, leaving the Awards Ceremony empty-handed should not be taken as an insult, instead it should serve as motivation to try harder next year. Ultimately, competition is beneficial to the school community because only it can inspire ever-increasing achievement. Without recognition to strive for, how can SLS students continue to excel at the level at which they currently perform?

You also compared the Ceremony to “a public comparison of who is a ‘winner’ and who is a ‘loser.’” Once again, leaving the PAC without an 8 x 11 piece of cardstock signed by Mr. Davis is not a loss, it just means that you didn’t win an award. It is possible to be an excellent, committed student and pass by four ceremonies without any awards to show for them.  Another lesson students who don’t win can learn is humility. In life, there will always be situations where one may think he or she is deserving of recognition, but in turn receives none. Learning to accept this with humility is an important part of maturity. Though they themselves received no recognition, students should feel happy for their peers, not jealous nor insulted. As soon as the ceremony ends, the student should resolve in his or her heart to win next year. If the Awards Ceremony is a competition that can be lost, then the loser should heed legendary football coach Bear Bryant’s advice: “losing doesn’t make me want to quit, it makes me want to fight that much harder.”


Ryan Murphy

Posted by on January 26, 2016. Filed under Op-Ed. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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