Party for Straight-A Students Only Draws Questions

A dance and pizza party open solely to straight-A students at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring has raised questions among some parents and kids.

Would a dance and pizza party motivate your middle-schooler to earn better grades?
Would a dance and pizza party motivate your middle-schooler to earn better grades?

Would a dance and pizza party motivate your middle-schooler to earn better grades?

Straight-A students at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring were invited to a dance party as a reward for good grades, but fallout over who was excluded is upsetting some parents, reports FOX 5 TV.

Tuesday’s party at the end of classes included a DJ, free pizza, soda and a game room for students who had all A’s.

Students who earned a mix of A’s, B’s and C’s were allowed to join in after the pizza was served, although some A students told the TV station they thought it was unfair to exclude the kids with lower grades.

“The students that don’t get to go end up feeling bad,” said parent Karen Hanlon, whose daughter has learning disabilities and was not invited to the party. Hanlon told The Washington Post that the dance “separates the students into groups” in a school already divided between a highly competitive magnet program and the students who come from the immediate neighborhood.

A spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools told FOX 5 that "recognitions are decided at the school level in collaboration with the school community." She suggested parents with questions bring them up with their principal and other officials at their school.

Safety first February 06, 2014 at 12:50 AM
Work hard do a good job get good grades and not only will you get Pizza but you will have a nice comfortable life when you grow up. Get D's in school and you will be the one delivering the pizza. To the parents of those who did not get to go to the party. Maybe you should help your kids do better in school.
Janis February 06, 2014 at 01:03 AM
In Superintendent Starr's last job he was specifically against sorting and tracking. This is nothing more than sorting students. Suddenly, he is a fan of what he would not permit? As the article states, this "system" is not equitable for students with learning disabilities. Do we want students that are struggling to drop out at middle school? This is the type of "public" school we had 50 years ago. Should we go back to that? If you aren't perfect by middle school, out you go? That would totally defeat the current purpose of our public schools to education ALL children to their potential. But, if society is ready to give up on children then sort them and toss them, right?
jag February 06, 2014 at 01:47 AM
John, so kids who work hard and still receive less than an A are SOL and not worth rewarding? Kids who push themselves and choose to be in advanced classes instead of regular and thus get less than an A are SOL and not worth rewarding? Providing a merit-based reward is fine, but doing so based solely on something as meaningless as grades is lazy and counterproductive. Having teachers nominate students worthy of the honor based on effort, relative growth, and schedule rigor would make more sense than giving fake weight to straight-As. I personally can remember some friends in high school who avoided taking AP classes in order to ensure they kept their high GPA intact. Or people who would take computer class instead of learn a foreign language because the former was far easier to ace. Pretending like getting As is the be-all end-all is the exact wrong message to be sending kids.
Mindy Anderson February 06, 2014 at 06:48 AM
This is EXACTLY why our world is so screwed up! Everyone feels entitled to what the next guy has! And they instill it in their kids. Guess what? Life doesn't work that way! Hard work equals rewards! You work hard, you get nice things. You work hard and get good grades, you get pizza! Simple as that.
AmyCreative February 06, 2014 at 08:19 AM
This party was just for the straight A kids. There are lots of other kids that try their best, but don't make straight A's. To hold a party over their head, that just isn't something you do to kids to motivate them. Why not have the party for all, and give Certificates of Achievement for things like straight A's, Honor Roll, perfect attendance, most improved... reward as many positive efforts as you can.
Dave Winterling February 06, 2014 at 08:31 AM
It's nice to see those who are willing to reward achievement. That is how the "real world" works once you are out of school, and that is a lesson that desperately needs to be taught while you are still in school.
Chris Podowski February 06, 2014 at 08:37 AM
As a young business owner I have found that people have become accustomed to receiving what they want for nothing. People want to make top dollar today for little or no work. There is no motivation to earn what they desire. This starts in school. When a child fails he/she should be told they did poorly. Not told it's ok and they need some improvement. It's our responsibility to help the future by teaching children that failure is real and how to grow from it. If you want the reward you have to do the work. Some people are not capable of getting straight A's, that is ok also. They need to understand where they fit in our society.
LevelheadedOne February 06, 2014 at 08:46 AM
As a parent of kid with disabilities (and one without) I see this a fair. It's the real world. I hope no one was taunting those who weren't invited. That's just mean and has nothing to do with grades. Believe me, my daughter worked very hard and did her best in high school and that's what we stressed. Not everyone can get an A. Not everyone will go to college. That's what makes up our world. We need those who like to work with their hands, we need craftsmen, artists, those who like to work outside, not behind a desk. My plumber and electrician make a good living and like what they do, THEY are successful. We all have to realize our potential and our value to society. Some are gifted with grades, some have other gifts. Work with what you've got. Don't try to force everyone into the same group. @Safetyfirst- you are way off. Just because you work hard doesn't mean you'll have "a nice comfortable life." As far as blaming the parents, it's not their job to get the grades, it's the students. Those parents who do the work for their kid to get into a college where they don't belong are doing them a disfavor, setting them up for disaster unless they plan on going to college with them. We all want our children to be successful but I think we need to address the definition of successful. Working to our potential, being happy with our efforts and proud of our results, adding to society not drawing off of it, that's probably a different definition of successful but maybe we should rethink what success is? Does it have to be the attainment of wealth or fame or could it be the achievement of something desired or attempted?
Arnie Kappeler February 06, 2014 at 09:31 AM
A magnet school has one more category of student than a non-magnet - high-achievers. Magnet students have to apply for admission, with tests and recommendations. So, it is likely that EVERY magnet student got to attend the party. Competition is a great thing, but the administration knew, long ago, who would and would not be invited. They can feign ignorance, they can state that achievement should not be punished and the world can be harsh, they can say that every child starts the school year in the same place, or they can own up to this being a bit of a blunder. Take the pizza money and invest in educational tools that will help ALL of the students.
Joan Wood February 06, 2014 at 09:42 AM
Kids need to know about the real world. Employers do not reward with raises for "fair" work.
Malcolm Wilson February 06, 2014 at 09:58 AM
make the grade, get the pie.
Polly February 06, 2014 at 10:25 AM
If ever there was a great teaching moment, this is one. This is an opportunity for the parent(s) to have real discussion with their child and explain the facts of real life. As parents you owe it to them and society to prepare them for the responsibilities and perks of adulthood. I'm quite certain the student and their parent knew well before this how well they were doing and/or any areas that needed improvement long before this party ever occurred. They chose to ignore the warnings and have suffered the consequences. Maybe they will learn from this and do better next semester. As a single mom to a now 27 year old son I used every opportunity to teach life lessons and he'll tell you he's a much better person for it.
Patrick Carter February 06, 2014 at 10:28 AM
I have no problem as long as the excluded children aren't required to attend the event. If I was a "D" student and didn't get pizza, no problem I just wouldn't go to the event. If no pizza, and I were made to go....can you say Columbia Mall.
Tracey February 06, 2014 at 11:37 AM
As the mother of a Howard County middle school student who is an honor roll student, but not straight A honor roll student, I have a problem with this academic exclusivity. To me, and the students at this school, the message is you still are not good enough. Either you are honor roll or not. If you only want the straight A students to have that distinction, that is fine….just don't tell the students that fall into those other honor roll categories they are honor roll when in the administration's eyes, they are not.
Shaka Zulu February 06, 2014 at 12:12 PM
I think it is a great idea, reward those that do the best, it is the same in the real world and the job market, the kids who are failing are the product of the one parent that is not doing their job because they are normally a single parent trying to live off welfare and do not have time for their own children, they D students probably already eat way too much pizza, if not mom can use her EBT card tonight and take the kid to her favorite restaurant.
Brigitta Mullican February 06, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Shaka, you are totally unfair. Not everyone becomes a CEO. It takes all employees to run an organization. I believe it is totally unacceptable to create a situation where you "separates the students into groups.” Not every student is capable of being an "A" student. LevelheadedOne has stated much what I believe so I will not repeat. It is not so much about the grade but how hard an individual tries and what the capability is of the person. Rewards need to be appropriate. Unfortunately society isn't always fair but we should try to make it better.
Noreen Dalisera February 06, 2014 at 06:33 PM
This has to one of the most absurd articles I have read this week. Because a child gets a "D" should not exclude them from a pizza and dance party; how do you think the children feel about their grades to begin with and then you shine spot light on them in front of their peers. The comments about life not being fair and they need to deal with it, parents need to prepare them for the real world, absolutely life isn't fair and we all need to understand that; However, humiliating a child for their bad grades is not going to help them bring up the grade, it is most likely going to end up with a lot of children with low self-esteem issues and may end up giving up or worse. Shame on the administration and teachers for doing this to their students; maybe the answer is to spend some extra time with them to find out why they are failing and help them bring the grade up privately.
Brigitta Mullican February 06, 2014 at 09:18 PM
@Noreen, I totally agree with you. Aren't schools suppose to help all students build up their self-esteem and not pull it down? There might be legitimate reasons why a student isn't making the best grade. I know what it feels like not to be an A-student. Was the school system involved with the party planning or was it a private party? Who paid for the party? I didn't read that in the article.
Mindy Anderson February 07, 2014 at 12:12 AM
Assuming that children with low grades are the product of a single parent on welfare says ALOT about your level of ignorance. Either that or you're just speaking from your own experience of being a single parent on welfare with children that have bad grades because you don't have time for them. I'm guessing B.
Lorna D. Rudnikas February 07, 2014 at 01:02 AM
Rewarding student who have achieved higher grades through hard work is certainly very worthwhile, but some how, "pizza parties" with "DJs" just doesn't seem to be the way to go. Actually, a spot light is being put on the students who did not achieve...just not sure the psychology behind this particular idea will present a positive outcome. Can see if parents of students who achieve high grades wish to have a party...no problem, but for the school to give a fun, fun slap down to the students who for what ever reason did not make it, is very poor judgement in my estimation. And so, what seems to be is great fun and cheering by the school for achievers and a bold slap down for those not making it Yikes!! Who the heck thought of this one? Certainly achievers can be rewarded in many ways...but I suggest that this particular form of reward will instill a lot of resentment and feeling of punishment by the crowd, instead of effort to do better.
Polly February 07, 2014 at 07:38 AM
@ Shaka Zulu Stereotype much??? I was always a single mom of one. I worked hard and had a great career. Thankfully, I only had to work one job as it was sufficient to pay the bills. I never had to go on welfare and/or food stamps or any other government give away. And for you to lump all single parents together as such is offensive. I happen to know many single parents and they all worked and were self sufficient. I was always a hands on parent. I knew where he was and who he was with at all times. I transported him and his friends to every baseball game/practice, because of the other parents who couldn't be bothered or they used that opportunity to go to Happy Hour etc. He played year round almost and did so for 15 years. I wouldn't trade any of those times for anything. I was the PTA Treasurer for 4 straight years because other parent(s) couldn't be bothered. I was very involved with his schools, and teachers. I made a promise to my son the day he was born that he would always be my first priority and that I could work around the rest. It worked quite well. So much so that my now 27 year old and I have a wonderful, open and trusting relationship to this day. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change a thing. We are now in the 21st Century and you need to come with us. Narrow mindedness has no place in society. If the only single parents you are familiar with are lazy, on welfare, food stamps etc., is either an assumption or take a better look around. Peace
Brigitta Mullican February 07, 2014 at 11:01 AM
@Lorna, you are right on. I hope that my tax dollars for the expensive MCPS doesn't make these terrible policies. Seems to me that to keep students in school the priority should be building up self esteem. Many successful individuals didn't get straight A's in school. On another note, this issue is not about single parents, but what policies are being used to prepare students to the real world. Somehow the subject got switched. Success is not only measured by grades. There is plenty of proof of this.
Shanna February 07, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Just because a student did not get an A or even a B does not mean that they only did "fair" effort and whoever says that is just plain stupid themselves. My oldest daughter would zip through school like it was nothing. Write reports in an hour without giving it much thought. Everything just came easy breezy for her and she zoomed through school with straight A's. Her sister who is 3 years younger than her has ADD. She studied and worked and studied and worked. She did get A's, but not always straight A's and she did get some D's. She would be so upset because she worked so hard and had such a hard time learning, where her sister just zoomed thru it. Well they are all grown now. And my oldest who zoomed through school thought she was going to zoom through life. She ended up having to start her whole career over and go back to an entry level position. Her sister, whom had to work so much harder in school than she, is much more successful in life. She is finishing up her degree in college and she is married to a man who started his own ambulance company etc..... the second daughter learned hard work and achievement even though she did not earn the A's her sister did. If I was to reward my children based on effort.....the second daughter would have gotten it every time. She really really worked hard for her education. And she didn't get straight A's.
Shanna February 07, 2014 at 11:29 AM
And I am also a single parent after my husband passed away and I was left to raise 4 kids on my own. I never received a drop of money from social services. If I had to work 2 jobs, I did. I dropped my kids off at school every morning. I ensured their school work was done, answered and many questions as I could to help them. And even though I did not have time to join the PTA or anything, I kept in contact with all their teachers through notes, email, and the telephone. Being a single mom is hard......being a single mom of 4 is even harder. But we all are not of welfare.
Lorna D. Rudnikas February 07, 2014 at 01:14 PM
Shanna's example of hard work and determination despite bumps in the road is, for me, the true lesson that all children need to learn. There are many, many examples of success...examples that go so much deeper than straight A's and for any school to promote otherwise is abusive...to include all examples (even straight A's) is vastly more important when preparing young people for the real world....yesterday, today and tomorrow...all apply!
Shaka Zulu February 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM
I love how you liberals all love to say how great you are because you are a single mother, which just proves your relationship failed for one reason or another or you were knocked up by a one night stand etc... It is still harder on the child, then we have ones that say "It is a matter of how hard to you try" haha that is a great one, have your child try that one when and if they ever buy a house, go tell the mortgage company or the bank, how hard your trying to pay and see how that works out for you, how about telling your children the truth, those that work hard, study hard and play by the rules normally do very well and normally do not end up on welfare, making everyone else pay for their very lives, if any of you own a business, please go hire the D students for your business and I will hire the A students for mine, good luck and remember to budget your welfare dollars they supposed to last for a month, but it has to be pretty easy since you already make the rest of us pay to feed your children breakfast and lunch at school, and how come that food stamp money does not decrease when kids go to school anyhow, it is 20 less meals the parent has to provide if they get 2 meals a day for 5 days a week.
Shanna February 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM
Shaka Zulu...... I am a great because I AM A SINGLE MOTHER!!! whoo hoo for me!!! and its not because my relationship failed or that I was knocked up by a one night stand.....it was because my husband passed away of a heart attack after 20 years of marriage dumb a$$. And 2 out of 4 of my children are home owners, 1 is currently getting ready to buy now and my youngest (20) is in college. And my D student is finishing up her degree in Radiology and maintains a full time job at a respiratory company. And nobody paid for my children except me so take all your comments ....... and you know where to shove them.
Malcolm Wilson February 11, 2014 at 12:57 PM
Shaka Zulu; what a fool. Anytime one stoops to name calling in a conversation it shows the depth of ones ability to debate, and yours appears to be pretty shallow. Go ahead and hire all the "A" students. I am sure they'll apply in droves to work for you.
Linda Trago February 17, 2014 at 12:35 PM
This "entitlement" mentality that seems to have taken over our society, makes me shake my head..You SHOULD deserve it because you have earned it...There is nothing wrong w/a competitive spirit..they will learn how to succeed in the real world as they become adults..good luck to all of you and to your children, who feel otherwise...
Lorna D. Rudnikas February 17, 2014 at 01:22 PM
I have hesitated to even go "there".....but what the heck!! I sadly see a "divide and conquer" effort going on in our wonderful country. It does not take a rocket scientist to see the psychological warfare at hand and to see that with help from far left wing folks and left wing media they are actually making some strides. Yikes! Better get a grip ladies and gentlemen...sometimes one goes to so far it is almost impossible to get back no matter how much you will wish it to be so. I suggest when all is said and done with the current direction....all will be in great need down the road and much easier to "control!" I suggest that is the agenda at hand on the left and that is "what it is all about Alfie!" Total Control!!! What better way to do so than to fool numbers of folks they are victims and other numbers are the enemy...even the cave men knew to "divide and conquer" is very handy. If we let it happen, we will all feel might foolish, but unfortunately it will probably be much too late in the game honey child.


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