Our Academic Awards Banquet, held each May, originated in 2011 in response to the fact that great learning was happening both in our classrooms and on our campus, but the nature of this learning wasn’t always reflected in the traditional grade point averages.
Modeled after the format used for the nationally known “SAMMY Milk Mustache” awards, for which two of our alums – Shelby Pickering and Aarika Ritchie – were selected, back in the early 2000s, this academic award is unique among the honors presented by most high schools, for two reasons. First, the thoroughness of the selection process (see criteria, below). And second, the fact that the foundation of the award is built on the year-long observations, reflections and analyses of student learning, by their teachers.
Then, after nominees are selected (criteria below), teachers provide stories, anecdotes, descriptions, observations, and data, which are incorporated into the biographies that are read about each recipient during the evening of the awards dinner. This direct, personalized insight and information tells the individual stories of our “most adept learners” for that particular school year.
Selection is year-to-year — it is never “guaranteed” or based on a previous year’s selection — a student must show aptitude, willingness to accept challenges, inquisitiveness and curiosity, diligence, clear results of high level learning, and “sparks” that reflect special gifts or accomplishments with that learning — a degree of achievement that is extra-ordinary. It is the collection of attributes, reflected in the criteria, which determines a student’s selection for this very special, intellectual honor.
Criteria For Selection — Academic Awards Banquet:
- Recommendation of 1 or more teachers (this is the first phase of selection and we ask teachers to consider “intangibles” and anecdotal evidence they see in kids — e.g. gifts of synthesis during in-class discussions, the ability to teach complex concepts to others, elaborated explanations of understanding done at a higher-than-usual high school level, productive leadership in rigorous group problem-solving, exemplary curiosity in pursuit of knowledge and understanding, etc.)
- Grade Point Average — two types of GPA: 1) historical, over their career at LA, and 2) as taken at the end of the 3rd quarter for the entire current year up to that time (with emphasis on the current year).
- Strength of this year’s schedule (AP, Honors, upper level, online, college, etc. courses).
- Depth of overall course schedule (in other words, students from the upper grades who have more academic experiences are more likely to earn this honor).
- High achievement on ACT, SAT, PSAT, AMME, or other relevant tests and assessments.
- AP courses — number a student has taken, and how well he or she has done on the AP exams
- completion and level of success with college-level courses done while at LA (Virtual High School, UMaine or other online courses, summer seminars and courses, etc.).
- “Grit” — defined as “persevering to reach learning goals.”