To the Editor:
Last year, in the school library, there was cake served and family, friends, and some teachers gathered for the “athletic signing” of our high school star. We upped the ante this year. Austin Traylor is a central Ohio superstar: a great kid, bred in the neighborhood, raised by a single mom. He plays football and basketball. My principal called him a beast. The teachers brought classes; coaches brought teammates, other sports’ teams, a few community members—all in all, a half a gymnasium’s worth of supporters.
The kids’ excitement was magnified by the confetti, the loosed balloons, and the pop of media cameras. Afterwards, heading back to classes, pumped, they said, “That’s going to be me next year! Watch!”
I asked, “Why don’t we have a national signing period for prestigious scholars who earn a full ride to their colleges/universities?”
Make no mistake, we celebrate academicians in this district: public-address announcements, academic walls, newsletters, ceremonies, acknowledgements in local papers, Internet accolades, praise by our superintendent at every venue. Our parent consultant proffered our own celebration. But I say, nationally, let us implement a national signing period for academicians, too, a boisterous salute to their accomplishments on par with the athletes, so my kids and others across the country will leave auditoriums celebrating the value of an education, and saying, “Watch! That’s going to be me.”
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Let’s Celebrate Academics, As Well as Athletics