by Madeleine Burke

Initially, I never believed a slip of paper or a grade book to be important. As a young child,  paper and grades represented homework, endeavor, and boredom. However, in the HB community, grades have become something different. One simple letter on a paper seems to decide our entire futures. How can everything we’ve ever wanted be determined by one quiz or test? Why does my entire future feel like it’s balancing on one math test or in-class essay?

It’s easy to feel this way at the beginning of the school year. You still haven’t gotten back into the flow of how things work but one introductory quiz is determining 90% of your grade. When the grade book initially opens, it feels as if a door opens with two hallways… one towards “success” and one towards “failure.”  The stress this door and those hallways push onto HB students is overwhelming. Everything becomes real, everything is magnified. The grade book becomes a scary, unavoidable topic that seems to haunt the halls. Nonetheless, even if that test doesn’t go the way you wanted to or that one homework assignment seemed way harder than what you did in class, life isn’t over, the world has not fallen apart, and there is always room for improvement later in the semester.   

So why is it that students feel the grade book as such a haunting subject in their lives? There really isn’t one single answer to this question. Personally, I assume that as we desperately try to conceptualize “success” for ourselves we use the grade book as a guide. But in truth, the grade book does not conceptualize individual success at all. How the gradebook looks when it first comes out is going to change drastically as you become better equipped in your classes and you realize your strengths and weaknesses. As the grade book comes out this season… think of it less as a dooming factor of failure and more as a benchmark. It is merely marking where you are at the exact moment. However, it has little effect on who you will be in the future. So don’t let one letter in the gradebook determine which hallway you will go down… because that’s up to you in the end.