The Great Award Debate: Senior Medallions


The senior medallion award, the most cutthroat competition in all of high school between highly ambitious and high achieving students, has recently stirred debate amongst some teachers. Should we keep it? Should we get rid of it? There are many valid arguments on both sides as to whether it should be kept or gotten rid of for good.

Keeping the medallion gives highly successful students the recognition that they deserve throughout their high school years and increases their motivation to excel. Students work incredibly hard in order to get good grades, and recognition for all of their effort is an incredible way to congratulate them. According to the Washington Post, students study for an average of 2.7 hours on weekdays and three hours on weekends, amounting to 19.5 hours a week that they spend on schoolwork. This is just shy of the number of hours worked by someone with a part-time job, and this doesn’t even account for the time students actually spend in school. This goes to show that maintaining high grades takes a lot of effort on behalf of high-achieving students, and they deserve some form of recognition for it.

Those who are in favor of getting rid of the medallion also make a valid argument. The medallion increases competition between students, which can end up being unhealthy by putting an emphasis on grades over learning or by putting too much stress on students. Competing for an exclusive award like the medallion may force students to compete and compare themselves to their classmates rather than corroborating with them. This implements a very narrow mindset, which could impede students’ social relationships and their future success. Turning academic achievement into a competition can also detract from students’ ability to learn in favor of just getting good grades. No matter how important something is to learn, the main focus will be on earning points. This can’t be fully attributed to the medallion awards, though, and needs to be taken into consideration in the greater context of the American education system, which is highly focused on grades and test scores.

Overall, the medallion and the ways it will affect each individual student will vary, but I do not believe it is something that should be eliminated entirely. Just because an award is difficult to achieve doesn’t mean the opportunity to receive it should be taken away from all students. Many students place a lot of value on their performance in school, and that shouldn’t be taken away from them just because not everyone is on their level. Rather than eliminating rewards for high achieving students, there should be a push to elevate students who are having a harder time succeeding in school, and their growth should be recognized as well.