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Last night, I got to watch my two high-school-age offspring receive awards, and once I got over beaming with maternal pride, I was able to appreciate just how valuable this annual Academic Awards Night is for inspiring motivation.
First off, I liked the format the school had. Instead of having an assembly in front of the whole school, all of the students there at Academic Awards Night (and their parents/guests) were invited specifically because they were getting an award. Some were there to receive one; other students ended up with a small stack. Everyone attending left with something, but in a way that wasn’t a watered-down “participation trophy”—they were there because they had done something great. This was a wonderful structure to celebrate the success of the top performers without making anyone feel “less than.” Kudos!
And these were all 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. The seniors will have their awards and trophies bestowed as they graduate, so most of the awards last night were milestones, not end results. That validation along the way helps so many people keep going over the long haul. How valuable is that sense of appreciation for inspiring future effort, particularly after the year we’ve all just had?
As we move back into “normal life” to varying degrees, consider finding ways to acknowledge the people who have gone above and beyond. Celebrate milestones, not just final successes. Inspire people with your appreciation of their hard work and dedication, and they will be proud to give you more of their hard work and dedication.