Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Celebrating Prom--and the SATs

May is a big month for our juniors!

In Deer Isle-Stonington, May is about the junior prom. Distinct from the same archetypal event in many other locations, our island prom is a joyous community-wide event supported and attended by young and old alike; one that celebrates our juniors and their connections to family and community as well as their “coming of age.” Even as I write this, student advisors, mentors, and parents are spending long hours at school painting and building, preparing the gym (and themselves) for this annual event.

And on Saturday May 1, a week before the prom, our juniors are expected to attend an event of equal importance to their futures: the Scholastic Aptitude Tests, or SATs. Because this is a relatively new event without the long communal connections of the prom, our students may not receive the same amount of active, visible encouragement and support for this event as they need to succeed.

While the SATs themselves are not new, their importance for all students—and maybe especially for those who think they may not be pursuing additional education after high school—is.

In the past only a select group of students were expected to graduate from high school with “college ready” educations, defined as the ability to successfully solve language and math problems at a certain level of proficiency. In today’s economy and job market, here on the island as much as off, ALL high school graduates need these skills: and the SATs are an important measure of how well our schools are providing students with the education they deserve to succeed after high school.

Additionally, high school students thinking they may not attend college often discover further education at a 2- or 4-year college, community college, or technical school is required to make a decent living in today’s job market. Given the impact of global economic forces on our lobster fishery, and our hopes to continually strengthen opportunities in our year-round community for our young people, we could be encouraging all of our students to aspire to some sort of further education.

And so this May, let’s be “loud and proud” in celebrating and supporting not one but TWO milestone events for our high school juniors: on May 1 the SATs, and on May 8 the prom.