Letter from the editor
The assumptions that the Athens community makes about Clarke Central High School students have a negative impact on the students’ motivation to succeed academically.
“Hey, here’s my draft. Be completely honest. Fix it all you want.”
I sat in the hard plastic chair squirming in doubt as I read something from a fellow student that would impact my perspective on everything I’ve learned in high school.
English has always been my strongest subject. I’ve been able to engage well in class discussion. Writing comes naturally to me and, as an editor, I know what corrections to look for in writing.
But when my English teacher asked me to work with and read a complete stranger’s draft, none of those corrections had any significance. Until that moment, I hadn’t experienced a draft containing mistakes in it that I found to be second nature.
I skimmed through the article as I corrected a few spelling and simple grammatical errors. I couldn’t sit still as I began to wonder how to approach the situation.
He looked at the edits I already made and said, “Wow, that’s a lot of mistakes, huh?”
My nervous hands pushed the keyboard aside. Strategies began flying through my head. Suddenly, I didn’t know the simple editing styles. Nothing I knew mattered anymore.
I was no longer looking for errors. I was looking for ways to help this student grow as a writer and communicator.
My eyes began to water. I realized, for the first time, what I find straightforward is something some of my peers struggle with. This occurrence brought a whole new perspective to what I’ve learned during my three years in high school.
This lack of understanding isn’t a matter of students being lazy. I have had my fair share of classes where students simply aren’t willing to learn. I’ve seen the cases where students come into the class and the first thing they do is put their head down and never look up.
But, in this firsthand experience I realized something different about students. Their curiosity and intellect has not been challenged. And the stereotypes created about Clarke Central High School creates an assumption they won’t be challenged.
To put it bluntly, the community has low standards for CCHS. You don’t have to listen too closely to hear the perception of CCHS throughout the Athens community. Students aren’t expected to exceed to the standards, let alone meet them. This idea surrounds the students at our school. Every student has the capability to succeed; they just aren’t pushed to because of the low expectations thought upon them from the community.
The saddest part is that our school and the students are critiqued based on the statistics. We’re looked down upon because we didn’t meet Annual Yearly Progress or because our graduation rates are low. Not because of the actual students, but because of the lack in success.
That day, I couldn’t grasp why this student’s draft was nothing like one of my AP English Literature peers’ writing. I’ve come to know the student as a friend, and I know he has the ability to achieve, but without the proper motivation, he couldn’t see that in himself.
Spending four years at Clarke Central High School shouldn’t be about just passing a class. It’s about growing and learning from the classes we take. I’ve learned something beyond the standards in almost all my classes, because I know there is something else to learn.
I want students like my friend to grow because I know they can, and are more than willing to. I want these students to feel the same way I’ve felt. This issue isn’t going to go away on its own. These students aren’t going to have this realization on their own. The community must show a sense of support to thesestudents if improvements are wanted.