May 4, 2018: Presidential Academic Awards

Hello, Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools. Today I’m going to tell you why this past Tuesday was one of my favorite days of the school year! Not only was it May Day, but we, as a District, got to celebrate an outstanding event which honored our students and our staff, as well as reinforced some outstanding engagement from our parents. Days like this are the reason we do the work that we do!

Annually, we invite students in the exiting grades of our buildings that have reached extremely high academic standards to be recognized as Presidential Academic Excellence Award winners. This year we celebrated with 28 fifth grade students and their families, 30 eighth graders, and 12 seniors. As a side note, this is the highest number of eighth graders we’ve recognized in over fifteen years--outstanding! This program has been around since 1983 and recognizes students that earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and must also score in the top 85th percentile on a nationally normed test. Just a reminder, that when we are talking about percentile, it is very different from percentage. If you took a test and scored an 85%, you would likely get a B on that test and be average. Percentile means that if you lined up 100 students of the same age, the student at the 85th percentile did better than 84 other students, and only 15 or fewer students scored higher than them. When you are talking about difficult assessments such as the ACT college entrance exam, and the Wisconsin Forward state tests, this is a true accomplishment.

The program has provided individual recognition from the President of the United States and the US Secretary of Education to those students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence! Each year, we are honored to recognize our deserving students!

So, what is it that sets this group of students apart from their peers? There are hundreds of ways to answer this, but I would offer that these students take advantage of the opportunities before them, they recognize how important achievement is, and they are motivated to push themselves to get better continuously.

Too often, when faced with an academic challenge, students will default to statements like, “this is too hard, I don’t understand, I need help, etc.” Students that show great perseverance and resilience will push themselves to be OK being uncomfortable. They are willing to persevere through a challenge and don’t expect things to come easy to them. These are the traits and fortitude that bring long-term success! Being successful in school is partly due to intelligence, but that success is equally achieved through perseverance, dedication, and GRIT!

In all seriousness, success doesn’t happen by accident. The students are working to make it happen, and their parents and families supported them along the way. Parents play a HUGE role in perseverance, resilience, and grit! It is absolutely necessary for a student to feel discomfort so that they can grow their brains and their thinking. Kids may not like it, and they may be frustrated, but only by pushing someone to do something new is true growth going to happen! When parents try to pave the way for their child and remove any struggles or discomfort, they are denying their child these growth opportunities.

This week we recognized their outstanding efforts, we celebrated their successes thus far, and we dream about the many successes they will achieve! Days like this are where the rubber hits the road, and we get to see the direct results of so much outstanding work!

Just a reminder that if you are looking for work, or are interested in exploring a new work possibility, the Middle School is hosting a Job Fair today. It is open to the community beginning at 1:00 pm and ending at 5:30 pm.

As always, thank you for your support of the School District of Black River Falls. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me! Let’s show our Tiger Pride in all that we do!
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