The Honor Roll: Healthy Motivation or Blunt Discouragement?

The honor roll is arguably the most sought-after academic achievement at Hotchkiss. Every semester, the honor roll is posted on a bulletin board outside the Dean’s Wing as well as on the Hotchkiss website. This practice has sparked controversy on whether the honor roll helps or hinders students’ continued performance throughout the year. Some argue that the it motivates students who aren’t included to perform at a higher level, while others say that the exclusion discourages students from trying as hard in classes. In order to honor students’ achievements, but not foster embarrassment, I recommend we stop posting the honor roll outside the Dean’s Wing and post it only on the website. 

Many students argue that the honor roll should be posted outside the Dean’s Wing, because it offers a high bar to which all can aspire. They state that, for students not on the honor roll, passing it daily will inspire them to work harder, so they can see their names on the bulletin board. Also, supporters argue, posting the honor roll creates respect among peers. By seeing a friend’s name on the honor roll, it creates a deeper sense of admiration in the community. Andrew Preis ‘22, says “Personally, I’m driven by seeing other people’s names on the honor roll, as it pushes me to do better and excel in my classes.” 

While there are many people in favor of the honor roll being posted, others argue that it is discouraging and embarrassing to those who aren’t included. Chase Vermeulen ‘22 says, “The honor roll reminds people who are trying their hardest that there are other people achieving higher grades, even though [they] could be putting in the same effort. That’s incredibly discouraging for some kids and doesn’t motivate them to continue with their goals for the second semester.” Other students are unhappy that the honor roll is posted on a bulletin board in the main hallway. Additionally, others argue that the honor roll puts only some students on a pedestal and implies that these are the only valued students.

I think that the honor roll is a great way for students to display their achievements and a great way to bond the community by creating respect for others. At the same time, I see how other students could feel excluded and undervalued by the list, therefore, a compromise should be reached. Instead of posting the honor roll outside the Dean’s Wing and on the website, I suggest that the honor roll is only posted on the website. This change will not force students to look at the honor roll if they don’t want to, but if there are students who are curious, then they can find it online. Also, students who make the honor roll will still have their achievements displayed to students and community members who are interested in reading the list. Honor roll is a great measure of excellence for academics at Hotchkiss which should be maintained without insulting students who may not be on it.