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Page 4 AHS 1991 Spring Summer Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2


Page 4 of AHS Alumni Association 1991 Spring Summer newsletter issue #2, volume #2

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Volume 2, Issue 2, Page 4 Spring - Summer 1991

Honors Banquet Speech: High School Myths

(Editor's note: I had the privilege of representing AHAA at the honors banquet May 15. I thought you'd like to read what two of Ames High's top 10% had to say.)

First of all we would like to thank our fellow honors students for giving us the opportunity to speak here tonight.

Just last year Emest L. Boyer, the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, addressed a National Govemor‘s Association meeting. He summed up the beliefs of many Americans about our educational system when he said, "Far too many of the nation's schools still are academically deficient and I'm convinced that if we don't make more substantial gains in school renewal, public confidence will dramatically decline, and America will enter a new century with its education system gravely threatened."

This is a very scary thought. The United States has always prided itself on being a world leader not only in terms of military strength. but in the intellectual strength of its people. Today there is a widespread belief that this leadership is a thing of the past.

A Gallup Poll conducted last fall asked American adults to grade American public schools. Their answers exemplified the wide- spread pessimism of the public. Sixty-nine percent of those polled would give schools a grade of “C” or below. If a politician is elected to ofiice by a sixty-nine percent margin it is considered amajor landslide. Yet that percentage of people in this country believe that our schools are only average or below. In fact, Boyer said that he believes that one-third or more of our schools are, “shockingly deficient."

And it doesn't end there. It seems that every day we hear more stories about high school graduates who cannot read. We hear that American students cannot find their own country on a world map. We hear that the United States ranks near the bottom in many subject areas including math and science. We hear about students who drop-out We hear about schools and teachers and parents who don't care. We hear about failure everywhere we turn.

All of these statements paint a very bleak picture. On the surface it would appear that our educational system is in decline with no foreseeable change in the future. Perhaps all of us should simply give up and resign ourselves to a second-class educational system and a third-class way of life. Our goal is not to assign blame, expose villains, or create controversy. Our goal is not to depress or demoralize. Our goal here tonight is to disprove many commonly held myths concerning high school students. To do this we havecompiled a list of what we belive are some of the most commonly held myths conceming high school students.

Myth #1: Ournation’s schools are a failure.

Fact: Ames High provides its students with an excellent education. Ames High has an average ACT score of 24.1 compared with 20.6 nationally and an average SAT score of 1176 compared with 900 nationally. These numbers are impressive, but the real story cannot be told simply by reciting test results. Students at Ames High have a genuine desire to learn. But this alone is not enough to make a successful school. Coupled with a student's desire to leam must be teachers who have a desire to teach and share their knowledge. Ames High has these in great abundance. Teachers in every subject area are well versed and excited about their fields. Students greatly benefit from the excellent teach- ers, but this still does not make a successful school. In addition to a quality faculty and motivated students, a successful school needs one more thing: an interested and involved community. Ames, without a doubt meets these standards. Parents care and take an active role in their children's education. Some go to watch and encourage their children at extra curricular activities, some push their children to do well academically, some volunteer their time and talents. But no matter what they do, parents play a vital role in the education of their children. Other members of the community are also involved in Ames High activities by attending athletic events and helping out in many vital, though often unrecognized areas. And finally, the voters of Ames provide the schools with the resources they need to provide a good quality education. All of these factors add up to an experience that provides atruly excellent education for the students at Ames High. Ames High is far from being a failure; it is one of the greatest successes in a very successful cormnunity.

Myth #2: High school students are stupid and lazy. The only thing they do is sit around the house and watch MTV.

Fact: A lot of high school students do watch MTV, but we also do alot more than that. There are extraordinary students at Ames High who thrive both academically and athletically. A true education consists of much more than spending time in school. Ames High students recognire this fact. Our involvement in so many other activities show a commitment not only to good grades, but to a good education. Whether in the classroom, the gym, the court, the field, the pool, the auditorium, or the lab, Ames High students excel in everything they do. Students here, in this room, have won so many awards and so many honors that to list them would take hours, and we would be sure to leave many out. A few of this year's highlights include a first place fmish in the state and a tenth place fmish nationally for the Academic Decathlon team; a state championship basketball team, a state champi- onship inboth boys’ and girls‘ track (all right, so I'm optimistic), thirteen national Merit Finalists, awards for students in science, in math, irt foreign languages, and many, many more. Stu- dents in this room have made some truly incredible accomplishments, but without the help of Ames High teachers, coaches, and administrators many of these things never would have happened. It is because Ames High provides students with such a wide variety of activities and such a rich envirormrent in which to do them, that so much has been achieved and so much will continue to be achieved by those students who benefitted from an Ames High education.

Before we go any further we thought that we have done enough serious talking. High school isn't all work and achievements and honors and awards. High school is also a time of growing up, of making mistakes, making friends, and making merry. So we thought we would continue our list of myths with some pertinent to the smdents being honored here tonight.

Myth #3: English is learning whether to say lay or lie, who or whom, hanged or hung.

Fact: Almost every student here has had either Mr. Forssman or Mrs. Campbell. Both of these teachers provided us with experiences we will never forget. Mr Forssman taught us about golden ideas. He not only taught us to recognize them in the stories we read, but to look for them in our own lives. We wrote about all our wonderful discoveries in our joumals as we learned to become really alive. Mrs. Campbell taught us about writing papers. If I piled all the papers I wrote for Mrs. Campbell out in front of me, the environmentally conscious people irt the audience would probably faint from the shock of seeing entire forests ravaged in avain attempt to satisfy Mrs. C ampbell’ s endless hunger for more work. Even though these two teachers used different methods, both played a vital role inmy education. Oh, by the way, I thought I'd share a little sentence I wrote by myself: To whom it may concem: Please lay down your books near the place where the picture is hung.

Myth #4: Between not having study halls and having more class scheduling freedom, your junior year is easy.

Fact: Your junior year is, to put it delicately, H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. The mere mention of Physics B still can send shivers down the spine of the best science student. But the one thing in Physics B that we can all be thankful for is that all pulleys are massless and frictionless. Mrs Campbell's lit classes — need we say more? If anyone of you can think of one good use for a cardioid or a lernniscate, leave immediately for the patent office — you'll be a millionaire. And, of course, those of us who are aspiring to overturn small govemments know how to properly start arevolution thanks to Kirk G. Daddow.

Myth #5: High school is a scary place full of drugs and crime and you get beat up if you sit in the wrong place.

Fact: While we ’d belying to say Ames High is free of crime and drugs, (despite the claims madeby the bright red and white sign outside the school's main entrance) Ames High is a relatively safe school. Although most of us have gone through more than one calculator during our high school careers, the $100 coat hanging under that calculatorprobably didn't get touched. There are no real gangs at Antes High either, unless you count the seemingly unchanging group of people who fill the lobby chairs all day long. And even though almost any bathroom you walk into has a hazy nicotine-like fog hovering in it drugs aren't being sold in the middle of the lunchroom. Overall Ames High has not been a bad place to spend four years. It's relatively clean. Most of the teachers are dedicated to their vocations, some so much so that they will not officially retire until their funeral services. Students do notview academic success as something to be ashamed of; in fact, most strive for it. For example, a B+ average is needed to be in the top half of our class, not many Iowa schools can say that.

Myth #6: High school is the best time of your life.

Fact: Hopefully you will walk away from Hilton Coliseum two weeks from tonight with lots of good memories of high school. But just as hopefully, these years won’ tbe the peak of your life. Rather they will be the basis for your successes in the coming years. After all, you need something to brag about at our tenth class reunion.

Jennie Jones '91
Scott Sundstrom '91


Page 4 Volume 2, Issue 2, Spring - Summer 1991 AHS Alumni Association Newsletter

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