I’m Calling it Bracelet-Gate » Teeny Manolo

I’m Calling it Bracelet-Gate

By Glinda

Now maybe I’m just being an ungrateful, disgruntled parent.

But I don’t think so.

You see, I just sent an email to the Principal of my son’s school.  And it while it wasn’t rude or snarky, it was blunt and possibly something she isn’t going to like reading.  Scratch that, I can promise you that she isn’t going to like reading it.

Sigh. Let’s see if I can explain this.

I was invited to the end-of-semester award ceremony because the Munchkin was slated for an award. 

Of course I attended, but I was surprised to see the inclusion of a group of students who got what amounts to a “Student of the Month” award, although this school calls it something different.   I was confused as to why it was included with the academic awards because they had already gotten their awards prior to the ceremony. Anyhoo, the award is given for a sort of good citizenship type of behavior.  I’m totally down with that, good citizenship should be recognized.

But let me ask you this-

Is it fair that the good citizenship winners get a pizza party? And time out of class to be personally congratulated by the principal and have their names hung on a personalized certificate on the Principal’s office wall for the year? And that they got a rubber bracelet? (Yes, I’m aware that it’s just a rubber bracelet, but picture a bunch of kids on a stage being instructed to show the audience consisting mainly of their fellow classmates their special bracelets.) 

Now pretend that you are seven years old. 

I’m sure that you would be more than a bit envious of these rewards given for good citizenship.  Because if nothing else, seven year olds are all about pizza parties and time out of class, and yes, rubber bracelets.  They don’t care if things are technically kind of lame, they just WANT them.

Let’s move on to the academic awards. 

For being being the best and brightest in their class for academic excellence, which takes quite a bit of work, by the way, they got a piece of paper.

It didn’t even include the subject of excellence, nor the semester. It was actually an extremely generic award given to the school for free from the company that takes the school photos. I know this because their name is on the bottom of it.  It basically just says “award” and I am purposely putting that word in lower case because it’s all in lower case on the paper.

Why is there not a bit more equity between the Student of the Month winners and the academic achievers?  I personally don’t think that one is necessarily more important than the other, so why the discrepancy in rewards?

If you were a seven year old, would you rather get the award with the pizza party, eaten at lunch in front of the rest of the school, or the piece of paper?

It is a sad day when your kid tells you that they were disappointed because they “only” got the award for academic achievement.

So all of this was said in the email, albeit more briefly.

I am so NOT the Principal’s favorite person.

9 Responses to “I’m Calling it Bracelet-Gate”

  1. marvel Says:

    My mom blew a gasket when I was in middle school because our middle school math team — which placed 1st in region and 3rd in state — was written up on the obituary page of the area newspaper. She thought it demonstrated a certain, um, lack of respect for academically achieiving students, compared to say, those who achieved athletic awards.

    Sadly I think there is a long tradition in our society of viewing very smart kids as socially awkward–celebrating their achievements can feel like telling everyone else that their kids are dumb. Celebrating the “students of the month” is a feel-good, self-esteemy sort of thing, after all. Anyone who conforms to the rules can presumably be student of the month (as long as they avoid using the s-word, apparently). Furthermore, celebrating conformity promotes conformity to rules and certain behaviors, right? Whereas if they celebrate and promote academic achievement, not everyone can do that (some level of intelligence is inherited, and you can’t change that some kids grasp new concepts quicker than others), and then it “hurts self-esteem” and promotes competition and standing-out and such.

    So, I have empathy for your Munchkin. If there is a fast-track for gifted kids, or a self-contained classroom or school for gifted kids, or even just a voluntary extra-curricular something for smart kids, I would encourage placement there ASAP. It’s life-changing for smart kids to be schooled with other smart kids, and to be in an environment in which the heros are on the math modeling team, not the football field. But those places are exceptions, not rules. In the meantime, you will just to have to celebrate his acheivements as much as you can; he is still at an age where parental approval carries as much or more weight than peer group.

  2. Glinda Says:

    He has currently been identified to test to enter the gifted program in our school district.

    However, they administer a test that is non-verbal, and part of the problem with the test (admitted by the District GATE Coordinator) is that it can fail to identify children whose giftedness lies in the verbal area. Which of course, is what the Munchkin is.


    So, we will see what happens.

    And no worries, he is getting feted by both us and his grandparents this weekend, both for his award and a stellar report card. 🙂

  3. Seana Says:

    My kids took that test. But the school where they used to go used not only the test but parent and teacher input to evaluate whether a child should be identified as GATE. GATE programs vary widely between school districts. While I was thrilled that my son’s were identified as GATE, the old school did nothing to differentiate between children. They didn’t group similar academic levels and they spent their GATE money on teacher training that amounted to ZIP in the classroom. I moved my kids to a program that is really working for both of them. They are still in public school, but the program caters to creative arts. They parents are asked to give a monthly donation which works out like a private school within the public school, but it works for us. Don’t settle for crummy treatment when your son’s education is on the line!!

  4. Glinda Says:

    Children in the 2nd grade who test in the 98th percentile or higher on the Naglieri will automatically enter the magnet gate school. Anything in the mid to high nineties will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but nothing involving parents. Mostly report cards and teacher recommendation.

    We are lucky that there is a GATE magnet school at this district, where the kids are in all-GATE classes with fellow GATE-identified students.

  5. marvel Says:

    P.S. Ha! Heroes, not heros. Not enough coffee, yet. If there are other errors please do not point them out to me, I am embarrassed enough as it is.

  6. Seana Says:

    Is it fair that students of the month got a pizza party, time out of class and a rubber bracelet? Yes. Is it fair that the academic achievers were treated differently at the SAME award ceremony? Holy God, NO. While I appreciate the reward for good behavior in an attempt to encourage that behavior in others, I think it is abominable to have a party and then exhibit attrocious behavior to those students who have achieved academically. Sad, sad, sad. This can of course be remedied by getting the Munchkin a bracelet and his own pizza party. I’m behind your letter to the principal 100%

  7. Glinda Says:

    He’s getting what will amount to a pasta and ice cream party!

  8. AuroraB Says:

    Oy Ve! First the s-word, now the award ceremony. This school! Makes me want to try harder for private school when my kids reach such an age…but this is probably unfortunately more common than my delusion of fairness would allow.

  9. Glinda Says:

    I know! The more I experience the school system, the more attractive homeschooling seems to become.

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