By Sua Yoo and Haruka Shimizu
This year, a novel approach to student recognition has been introduced to ASW. Moving away from the previous system of Principal’s List, Honor Roll, and the Academic Excellence Awards, the high school decided to initiate a system of Warrior Awards.
Under the new system, students can demonstrate high achievements in four different categories: academics, activities, attendance, and approaches to learning. Depending on the sum of their points, students can be awarded either diamond (15/16 pts), gold (13/14 pts), silver (11/12 pts), or bronze (9/10 pts).
The criteria for receiving a Warrior Award are as follows:
The objective of this new system is to “recognize and honor students in a manner that embodies fairness and inclusivity,” as stated in the student handbook. The Warrior Award recognizes students on a non-competitive and inclusive basis: students can now endeavor to reach an absolute scale and do not have to compete with others to win an award. For this reason, the Academic Excellence Awards for each subject area will no longer be awarded, because, under that system, only one student can be awarded for his/her achievement. Teachers have continuously expressed concerns about choosing one student over many others.
On the other hand, many students have expressed concerns about the Warrior Awards, mostly regarding the lack of universal recognition and unrealistically high standards required for the top tiers. Acknowledging such concerns, a group of student council members organized a meeting with Mr. Sheehan, the HS principal, to share student feedback and discuss possible improvements.
Mr. Sheehan first stressed the importance of being well-rounded students who are active in not only academic endeavors but also in extracurricular activities. He stated that “the key to school spirit is involvement, and the new award system, which is aligned with our school’s Mission and Core Values and the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate Organization, is an incentive for students to be more involved in the school community.”
Also, he explained that each school around the world has its own award system and so does ASW. Since we already have a school profile which presents the story of our school, students do not need to worry about the lack of universal recognition of Warrior Awards for their university applications.
As of right now, obtaining a diamond award is rather challenging. Students must receive an average of 7.0 with 3 full seasons of CEESA/SCIS activities. On top of that, they can only have up to 1 missed deadline as well as almost perfect attendance. For many, this is unattainable since it is simply difficult to balance academics with other activities. However, given the student feedback mostly from the upperclassmen, Mr. Sheehan has considered adjusting the boundaries for the academic performance and activity participation category in order to meet the objective for this new system: fairness and inclusivity.
Mr. Sheehan concluded that students who receive any level of the Warrior Award already are highly engaged in the school community. Therefore, he emphasizes that the school’s aim is to reward all students who have contributed in a fair manner.
The system will be first piloted for the High School in the 2018-19 school year and then considered for adoption for the Middle School the following year, according to the student handbook.