Damascus Ranks Low in Academic Appreciation

Sierra Lynch, Staff Writer

High-achieving students are disadvantaged by the withholding of class ranks and failure to be recognized for their hard work in the classroom.

   As I filled out my CommonApp, one section remained blank: class ranking. Since MCPS decided to get rid of its GPA ranking system, I was forced to report that my school system does not give us our class rank. This decision took effect starting for the class of 2019 with the School Board citing pressure and negative competition as the reasons to eradicate it. The School Board feared that students would pack their schedules with the hardest classes to boost their weighted GPA rather than taking the classes they are interested in. They justified this choice by citing that rankings are less influential in the college admissions process. 

   A report by US News & World Report found that out of the 1,400 colleges they observed, 37% consider class rank as important or very important in their applicant review. Johns Hopkins University reports that 99% of the students admitted for the class of 2026 were in the top 10% of their high school class. Class rank may not be important to all admissions officers, but it could be another factor to help an applicant stand out. 

   At Damascus, the top 25 ranked seniors are celebrated with a banquet at the end of the year. This is a nice gesture but only recognizes these students at the very end of their high school careers. The honor roll is awarded quarterly, but since it’s based on an unweighted GPA it doesn’t recognize the hard work and dedication of the honors and AP students. It is much harder to maintain a 3.0 or higher in a college-level course than in other courses. 

   Underclassmen awards are given annually, however, this has been poorly managed over the last three years. Current senior Jordan Lynch was awarded Excellence in French 4 at the end of her freshman year. Considering she was taking Spanish 3 at the time, this came as quite a surprise. When the issue was raised to the school, they sent her a corrected certificate but this mistake was easily avoidable. What about the student who truly earned that award?

   Last year the ceremony was over Zoom despite the school holding several in-person events post-pandemic. This was disappointing, but the disappointment continued when the execution of the Zoom was careless and sloppy. Current senior Yeicy Ramirez’s name was misspelled in the award slideshow. This mistake was also easily avoidable and reflects the lack of effort put into the presentation. Additionally, the pronunciation of many last names were butchered by the presenters on Zoom. These students worked hard, the least staff could have done is double check pronunciations before the call. 

   Awards and rankings are incentives for students to try their best, and our hardworking students feel disregarded when they fail to be adequately recognized. We consistently praise our student-athletes but that appreciation fails to make it out of the stands and into the classroom. If academics were more celebrated, then maybe more students would be determined to achieve.