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Along Life’s Way
The Inconvenient Students
By Lois E. Wilson
 
One year in high school, someone in authority decided to have a contest. The winner would appear on the cover of the programs for a school career night event.
 
Some classmates decided to mount an effort to elect the least-likely girl. To them it was a prank to embarrass the girl and the school. They lobbied undercover to secure votes for their candidate. Their unsuspecting victim won. Unsatisfied with the results, the school administration decided that she would not be put on the cover. To them, she became an inconvenient student.
 
I knew the girl and felt sorry for her. I told my parents, “I don’t think it’s fair. She had the most votes; she won the honor.” I often wondered if my educator parents intervened. Something changed the school’s decision. Its compromise solution was to put a group picture of students on the cover. They included the student who had won the contest in the group.
 
There was another “Lois” in my high school class. We were on the same intramural basketball team. Our senior year, it seemed like we took turns with our grade point average being at the top of our class of 340. It was a friendly rivalry. At the end of the school year, my GPA was a little higher. Every year our school, like most others, honored the top two students by naming them valedictorian and salutatorian to speak at the commencement ceremony. That was not the case our graduating year. We both became inconvenient students. There would be no speeches by us.
 
Some higher-up person, I believe it was the Dramatics teacher, decided to eliminate the tradition and have a skit starring pet students. The skit was called “Third and Main” referring to the cross streets in the center of Dayton. On the commencement programs, students in the upper 5% of the class were designated with an asterisk by their names. Of the eight students in the skit, only one had an *.
 
This inconvenient student had an * and was listed as being on the Commencement Committee. The other “Lois” had only her *. The Dayton Daily News did include my picture and honors in a feature “Top Flight Students.”  One of the students in the skit became active on national TV sports programs. Whenever his background was published, he listed himself as valedictorian. Poor guy, he didn’t have an asterisk to his name.
 
Unfortunately, similar events happen today for politics exist at all levels of education. Today one could probably call it “institutional bullying.” I believe all in that field have an obligation to preserve fairness in the treatment of students—not one should ever become “inconvenient” because of an educator’s whims and actions. That’s the least we should ask.


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