It goes by many names. Star of the Week. Student of the Week. Whatever. (Star was reserved for Kindergarten, the rest used Student, and in fifth grade a third tier, “Student of the Month,” was added.) I have a special, special hatred for this farce of an achievement, because it’s not really an achievement at all. Perhaps my opinions of this not-achievement are colored because I am an introvert.
It sounds like a nice idea on the surface. Congratulations, you have been deemed an awesome person and everyone has to kiss your butt for the week… for reasons you have NO BLOODY IDEA WHAT. The exact details varied between teachers and school level, though at minimum you’d get put on the spot in front of class and interviewed and a poster made about you just to show how much of an awesome person you are. Nobody is told how one unlocks this achievement (presumably to prevent gaming the system, but… these were small kids, our capacity for social engineering was pretty limited), but as you figure out as the school year goes on, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get it twice a year, even if you were the worst-behaved or worst-performing in the class. This is, of course, because teachers have to pick you at some point else some parent will make a fuss.
I hated being picked, in hindsight. I hated every moment of it. I couldn’t articulate very well, and I realize much of it was my otherwise-depression-laden childhood talking, but I did not enjoy the attention at all. Compared to my peers, I was EXTREMELY BORING– I was that fat kid who played video games but… really didn’t know much about anything else because my parents (or rather, my mother) hated people and never let us play outside, have friends over or go visit. What was there to say about me that could possibly make me interesting or likeable…?
Fifth grade was the worst implementation of Student of the Week. Our teacher was pregnant at the time, so of course the topics were always skewed towards things about babies and how long our mothers were in labor… um, ew. Were those details really necessary? On top of that, every Friday we were all made to write letters to the featured student in which we pretty much had to kiss their asses and such… and mine were all apology-fests. “We really don’t know each other, it’s not personal, I just don’t have anything to say, I’m sorry,” and the like, which was sure to get my letter excluded from the binder that was compiled and given to the candidates after the “Student of the Month” assembly. While you were guaranteed at least two shots at Student of the Week, this wasn’t the case so much for Student of the Month… and you couldn’t really compete for it as it more or less came down to all-out teacher favoritism in the end, veiled by factors like Holey Card and Daily Oral Language scores, classroom behavior and performance in P.E. I know I lost out because my interviews and letters were just super depressing and while the loss stung at the time, I’m actually glad I didn’t get picked because I was sure I would have had some kind of meltdown in front of the entire campus, and my teacher was already having issues trying to get my mother to not only give consent for me to be examined by the school psychologist, but to wrap her head around the possibility that I might be suffering from depression.
So, yes, much of my hatred for Student/Star of the Week was rooted in my stupid childhood drama, but I still hate the idea of propping some random kid up for the week. The cynical part of me that was born from this part of my life thought that such an exercise bred “Special Snowflake” complex and attention-seeking behavior.
As far as the rewards themselves, they were rather worthless– sure, a Student of the Week-embossed pencil was sort of useful, I guess… I would have preferred to eat lunch with the teacher to avoid having to deal with the nonsense that was SILENT LUNCH. (Actually, I’d prefer being able to opt into eating in the classroom and away from the general population all the time if I had the option to…)