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Cheering mediocrity


Published: May 04, 2013

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The school year is in its final weeks and there will be various proms shortly for seniors graduating and heading to new phases of life.

Proms are celebrations of that transition.  Teenagers get dressed up and say goodbye to the school and friends.  Here in The Bahamas proms have increasingly become theatrical, and at times spectator sports of the bizarre and excessive.  

Some teens go as far as riding in horse-drawn carriages or being accompanied by mini-Junkanoo rushouts or bands as they make their entrances to the event.  Many families spend thousands of dollars on outfits, limos and other theatrics in order to ensure that their children are well-watched spectacles for one day.

At some proms hundreds of people gather on the outside of hotels to watch the entrances.  The characters with the best concept get the most cheers.

There is nothing wrong with a celebration of the end of a long journey.  However, many of the children obsessed with being stars at the prom have poor levels of achievement and they did not put as much effort in to school and learning as they did becoming the biggest spectacles on prom night.

In some instances some schools have policies stating that if students don’t achieve certain achievement standards, they cannot attend proms.  This should be the case across the board.  And certainly, those who are not actually graduating should not be able to attend.  Many teens leave high schools with only certificates of attendance due to poor performance.

As a culture we must demand more and place our focus more on the meaningful and not the trivial.  Some parents spend thousands on the prom night event, attending to every detail to make their child a star.  These same parents never inquired about the child’s schoolwork, never attended a parent-teacher meeting and never knew any of the child’s teachers.

We often blame schools for the poor level of achievement in The Bahamas.  There is much improvement needed in the Bahamian public education system.  However, the greatest factors behind successful children are family support and standards at home when it comes to education.

In the case of the prom stars, they are being supported towards buffoonery with louder and louder cheers for increasingly bizarre behavior.  If that support went more toward reading, comprehension of mathematics and school attendance, those children would have a better chance at being rational, civilized citizens able to understand their community and to find employment.

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