And the Winner of the Lois Adams Award Is…

A few days before our youngest son was set to graduate from Middle School, we received a call from the school office. They wanted to know if my wife and I would be at the graduation ceremony, since our son was going to be receiving an award. They did not tell us what the award was going to be, but it didn’t matter. Award or no award, we were going to be at the graduation.

Well the big day arrived, and after some initial remarks, they started announcing the award winners. There were several awards for accomplishments in academics, athletics, school spirit, leadership, and other aspects of middle school life. My wife and I listened intently to the description of each one, thinking maybe this is the one.

Finally they got to the Lois Adams award, which is presented to the eighth grade student who has shown growth and improvement within their middle school career and has demonstrated consistent effort and motivation throughout middle school.

The principal then announced “Patrick Borden”, and my wife and I burst into a fit of clapping. While we were applauding we looked over at our son, who stood up and began walking to the front of the room to receive his award. However, we noticed that he had his head down and he looked quite dejected. His friends were high-fiving him, but he did not seem to share in their excitement. He returned to his seat with the same look of disappointment.

Soon enough, the ceremony was over, and we went up to congratulate Pat on his award, but he did not seem at all proud of his accomplishment.

We asked what was wrong and he said, “It’s embarrassing.”

We asked why he felt embarrassed, and his reply is one that will live in our family lore forever.

“It’s embarrassing to receive the Lowest Average award.”

Like virtually every other kid at the graduation, Pat likely was not paying close attention to the various awards, and thought the award was for Lowest Average, and not Lois Adams.

We explained to him what award he had actually won, and then his mood did a 180, and he was back to his normal self.

We also told him later that a school would never give an award to someone with the lowest average.

It’s now been 12 years since our son received that award, but it’s still one of our favorite stories to reminisce about, and Pat laughs as much as anyone when we tell the story.

But I’ve also wondered over the years what would happen if a school really did give the lowest average award. Would such an award motivate students to work harder, so they don’t receive such an award? Or would some kids actively seek out such an award, just so that they get an award at graduation, since after all, it’s probably a lot easier to win the lowest average than the highest average award. Would the parents of the winner of such an award sue the school for the emotional distress caused by such an award?

I’m sure we will never know the answers to such questions, and such questions probably would have never crossed my mind if it weren’t for Lois Adams.

So thank you Radnor Middle School, and congratulations once again to Patty B!

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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