Awards Day – A Poem

While reading and commenting on Amanda C. Dykes’ blog post, “And The Award Goes To…“, I came across this poem (shared by Rebecca as a

By frankjuarez http://bit.ly/jJi5DI

By frankjuarez http://bit.ly/jJi5DI

comment) and I felt I needed to share:

Awards Day – by Beth Moore

I went to my son’s school that day
It was a very special day
When worthy tributes would be paid
To honor students in 1st grade.
Music ushered children in
Faces wet with toothless grins
Flags were raised and banners hung
Pledges said and anthems sung.
I stood with other moms in back
He didn’t know I’d come, in fact
I didn’t want his hopes set high
In case his teacher passed him by.
Every mom felt just the same
All had come to hear one name
The child she hoped they’d recognize
And find deserving of a prize.
The list went on page after page
As beaming children walked the stage
Cameras flashed and parents cheered
Grandma smiled ear to ear.
My eyes were fastened to just one
The anxious posture of my son
Perched at the very edge of seat
Too young to have assumed defeat.
Certificates for everything
From grades they made to how they sing
For days missed, for how they drew,
Good citizens to name a few.
But it wasn’t likely on that day
They’d honor one who’d learned to play
And stay in class from eight to three
Who’d learned to write and learned to read.

We hadn’t hoped he’d be the best
We’d prayed he’d fit in with the rest
I knew no matter who they’d call
My boy had worked hardest of all.

An elbow nudged me in the side
A friend attempting to confide
A boy waving frantically,
“There’s my mom! Right there! You see?”
They never called his name that day
I drove straight home, sobbed all the way.
The boy? He had ceased to care.
He had a mom and she was there.

(poem written by Beth Moore, found in her Things Pondered book)

What happens to a child that, no matter how hard he/she tries, they never win an award? What if this was your child?

As we near awards ceremony days in schools, please take a moment to reflect if this is, in fact, a positive tradition in our schools.

Join The Movement to Recognize All Students.

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.


  1. Hey Chris,

    Another great reminder that awards assemblies aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be.

    I struggle with whether or not they’re positive traditions. A part of me believes that it is important to provide students with role models of excellence to look up to—and that’s something that is definitely possible in an awards assembly.

    I also like the idea of really rewarding and recognizing those kids who have done extraordinary things.

    But I also understand that there are a ton of average kids that will never be recognized even though they’re trying to improve too. Those are the kids that are hurt by awards assemblies.

    I’ve always tried to convince my teams to give “On A Roll” certificates to every kid at honors assemblies. They would be recognition certificates for kids who’ve achieved in areas that aren’t typically recognized.

    The answer: “We don’t have the time for that.”


    Anyway…thanks for continuing to push my thinking on this topic.


  2. Chris,

    First, I really enjoy reading your posts. They are challenging, reflecting, and thought provoking.

    Second, schools should have programs in place to not only celebrate achievement, but PROGRESS! Some students will not earn a 3.0 gpa, but they can definitely improve their gpa .1 or .5 points. There is a concept I embrace that goes this way: “what is recognized and reward is respected. What is respected gets repeated, thus creating positive results. To recognize someone’s progress is showing that you value them and the efforts, which typically encourages them to keep doing it, keep getting better, to keep making progress.

    I learned this concept as an athlete and coach, and it was conceptualized through the Jostens Renaissance program we have at our school.

    Also, think about it this way: when a child first learns how to walk they are cheered and celebrated for every step they take. When they fall, they are celebrated and cheered because of the small steps of progress made. The reward or award doesn’t have to be anything big or ceremonious, but it should be a part of the school climate and culture. Thanks again for sharing!

    Be Great,


  3. Chris,

    Thank you for this powerful post. The poem is very thought provoking and timely as we come to the end of the year and all the activities that come with it.

    Luckily, I do not work in a culture that promotes awards assemblies as they are described in this poem. I am fortunate to work in a school where the culture is such that we recognize children’s efforts throughout the year not just at times that warrant assemblies.

    I agree with Dwight that it is just as important to recognize progress as it is to recognize achievement. If we truly believe in differentiated instruction and meeting the needs of every learner, we need to differentiate how we celebrate their progress towards goals as well.

    I strongly believe that our goal as educators is to take a child from where he/she is on the continuum of learning to a place farther along that continuum. For each child that path is going to look differently. When this is our goal, each child is celebrated for the work he/she does to make progress. A portfolio of work that is celebrated in year-end student led conferences where children explain their progress to parents is a much more effective awards assembly to match this philosophy.

    Thanks for this powerful and timely reminder,



  4. A powerful reminder that every kid is someone’s hopes and dreams. I have 3 kids, and the two oldest are very different (number 3 is 9 months old, and isn’t all that academically active yet). Yet all are equally precious, and come what may I want to see each have their moments in the sun. I believe in teaching kids to play to win, and I believe in the value of competition. But I also believe that every kid needs to be recognized for their efforts. Great reminder, keep it up Chris.

  5. Such a great poem! So important to think about how award ceremonies can affect all. I often wonder about the impact on kids who are new to the school, or have started attending much later than others at a particular school (either coming in at a later grade or later in the year) . Are these kids less likely to get recognized or feel that they won’t get recognized (which might affect some in different ways)? Thinking about the messages that might be given without realizing it as these ceremonies are conducted. I like the idea of finding other ways to acknowledge students that are postive for all.

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