Do the Academic Awards Really Award Academia?


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Members of the Class of 2019 at the 2019 Academic Awards

Each June, Cherokee High School holds the annual Academic Awards that are believed to honor Cherokee’s most distinguished scholars and athletes. In order to snag an invite, you must have straight A’s, which is essentially a 4.0 grade point average or you can have a grade point average of about a 3.5 and be a varsity athlete in order to snag an invite. However, these awards have begun to strike a conversation amongst students as the requirements seem quite unfair. These awards are supposed to value true academia, yet it appears that they lower the bar for athletics, begging the question: do the academic awards truly reward academics?

Cherokee is an amazing place to go to school: the teachers value the art of teaching and the students value the art of learning, yet there is always a baby elephant in each of Cherokee’s classrooms: the art of sports. Some believe that athletics are so rigorous on their own that asking students to hold the same bar as those that do not do sports is unfair. However, what about the kids that participate in Cherokee’s band or art programs or what about the kids that participate in numerous extra-curricular activities or have a job after school? Each student has a unique story and a unique list of daily tasks. By valuing an athlete and lowering the bar for them, the administration is essentially discrediting the rest of the students who may not participate in a sport.

In no way is anyone else arguing that athletes do not have a tough job, but they are arguing against the favoritism that athletes do receive. A student who takes three AP classes and is an integral part of Cherokee’s marching band should not have a higher threshold to reach than an athlete that may take the same three AP classes. Both students devote their lives to not only their studies, but also to their passion and whether their passion is a sport or an organization like marching band, there cannot be various different hoops for various different interests.

The intentions behind the Academic Awards are pure and they give students a goal to work towards to, however, there cannot be two different bars for students to reach in order to gain the actual award. Similar to Cherokee’s National Honor Society, students have proposed a middle ground grade point average such as a 3.75 that could allow for students of all interest levels to garner the award. There cannot be favoritism when there are so many different time-consuming activities at Cherokee.