Portage la Prairie, MB –
Local parents Julianne and Marvin Dueck find themselves disappointed with the graduation of their oldest daughter Alyssa this Friday from Portage High. The couple was hoping for a much greater sense of satisfaction from their child’s accomplishments.
“When Lyssie was younger, she did so well in school and sports,” Julianne Dueck said. “Her teachers and coaches were always handing out awards for everything she did.”
“A week wouldn’t go by without her getting some sort of accolade,” Marvin Dueck explained. “Some of the awards didn’t seem like they were for doing anything but we liked getting them. It gave the grandparents so much to brag about.”
As Alyssa Dueck moved from middle school to high school the number of trophies, medals and certificates dropped dramatically. She no longer was a stand out in the classroom or on her sports teams. By the time she reached grade 12 she was just a slightly above average honour role student leaving her, her parents and grandparents asking what happened to the promising young lady.
“I blame the high school,” said Mr. Dueck. “She was winning all kinds of sports awards and was a straight A student until high school.”
Portage High Principal Gregory Roberts explains the school’s perspective on the problem. “A lot of students and parents come here with high, and sometimes unrealistic, expectations,” Roberts said. “I’ve seen it take a toll on many parents and grand parents. Little Jenny or Johnny isn’t the brightest star or the biggest fish anymore, they are just normal students.”
The Duecks blame a lack of developmental opportunities for their daughter rather than an increase in competition for the lack of recognition Alyssa experienced.
“She’ll be graduating this Friday with a couple of bursaries and making the honour roll but gone are the endless awards she used to get for being the best,” Mrs. Dueck lamented. “Why should only the very best athletes and students get all the awards? What about my kid?”
“I wouldn’t say that high school is a complete meritocracy. We still do a lot of hand holding and nose wiping to get kids through but we do keep the awards for the top performers,” Principal Roberts said. “We are trying to have students prepared at least a little bit for real life. Most adults don’t get awards and ribbons for just showing up and being slightly above average. It’s not kiddie play time anymore.”
The Duecks are considering their options for Friday’s graduation ceremony. “I think we’ll just end up taking a couple of photos and exaggerating what her awards were for on Facebook. Grandma and Grandpa won’t know the difference anyway. As long as they think she was the best that’s good enough,” Mr. Dueck said.