The Race to Ace

Rachael Mayrose, Staff Writer

It is no secret that Ward Melville houses many intellectually gifted students. Each morning the “award winning Ward Melville Players” announce the names of students who have been recognized for their academic achievements. Just this past week, thirty-eight students qualified for the National Merit Scholarship, not to mention the countless other names announced since September to credit accomplishments from sports victories to perfect scores on AP exams.

 The main goal of education is to teach students information and set them on a path to a successful future, but many students are concerned very little with actually learning. This obsession with being the “smartest,” highest ranked student has cultivated an unhealthy academic competition in which students become solely focused on their GPA and outperforming their peers.

 “It seems like no one really even cares about the actual subjects anymore,” says junior Arezu Esmaili, an AP student and Merit Scholarship qualifier. Even she points out, “They just care about passing tests to look good.”

Because of this desire to out-do each other, students resort to cheating and other dishonest practices. These aren’t really the actions one would expect from an elite, Honor Society, Merit-earning student population.

 Cheating is rampant in Ward Melville; last year’s “Moodle Incident” clearly demonstrated the academic dishonesty that plagues the higher-level classes. The willingness of Melville’s “brightest” to blatantly disregard not just the academic code of conduct, but their integrity, too, is concerning.  They risk getting into serious trouble, all in the race to achieve not an A, but that ever elusive A+.

 Academic competition is compromising not only the morality of the student body, but also the physical and mental well-being of the students. Students sacrifice sleep and function under high levels of stress due to the overbearing, overwhelming amount of schoolwork which is only compounded by the intense pressure to attain academic perfection. This competition creates tension within the student body, turning peers into opponents.

We all know that a little competition can be good a good thing, but the level of academic competition in Ward Melville is too high. Grades are only numbers on a page. Learning should be more than just memorizing and regurgitating.

In this race to the top, we can come out as winners without having to trip our opponents. And when the finish line is far behind, will a handful of grades or an armful of memories line the track behind it?