Winning: Clout is what it is about.

As a society; We send a lovely message to our children “You can anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it” but in reality, as adults, we forget to treat our children in a fair and unbiased manner.

Genevieve’s handmade 3d Dam Model for her science fair project on Structural Engineering.

My rant and perspective stem from a particular incident that occurred last week. An incident that involved Genevieve, the Science Fair, and the most outrageous judging known to man. Let me first acknowledge that she does attend a private Christian school and we have observed an exclusive group of parents and teachers who are unwelcoming to newcomers.

Our story:

 Science Fair is a school wide event; requiring a scientific study and a poster board; the students are given a rubric to follow. Genevieve chose to create different structured dams and test which one was the most sustainable. We documented her research with pictures, created a nice poster board, and she created a beautiful 3d model, she invested a lot of time into this project. I can’t even express her enthusiasm and pride Friday morning (Pre-science fair judging). We were certain she would place, how could she not? For a 5th grader, she went beyond expectations of the rubric.

So Friday, I excitedly left work early (leaving an HR problem unresolved) so that I could watch the awards ceremony. I walked up to the chapel, 5 minutes after the ceremony started, and children were already leaving. Really? It took them only 5 minutes to hand out awards. So I stood excitedly, waiting to encounter Genevieve and her award. What I encountered was a dejected, deflated, and almost in tears little girl. I already knew that outcome was not favorable, so I told my self that the competition must have been pretty fierce. I signed Genevieve out early and we got in the car.

She began sobbing, telling me how she didn’t win. So I asked her what the winners projects were.  1st place went to a boy who’s hypothesis was “Which soda does a Mentos foam in the most”. Well that will help science move forward now won’t it? He had a poster board and brought in 3 2L of soda.

2nd place, is admittedly cool. It was how much salt is needed to make an egg float in boiling water. I agree that this deserves recognition.

3rd place went to ” Which noodle expands quicker, thick or thin”. Wow, I bet that took some critical thinking.

So, if you just look at this alone then you might concur that the judges were just drunk but then we put in the pieces brought up by my 11 year old daughter. Personally, this observation from Genevieve made me heart sick. Genevieve said “Mom, there is no point in trying hard anymore, the kids that won have gone to this school since preschool and their parents volunteer all of the time. This school is full of favoritism and I hate it”. Ok, so this makes my eyes wet because it is true. The winners grandmother is a the “class mom” and her assistant is the mother of the 3rd place winner.

The school play, the parts went to kids that the music teacher liked the most. One of the new girls, whose mother is a professional vocal coach, was chosen to be an understudy and she actually ACTS!!!

My sad girl after the judging.

I understand that this is the harsh reality of the cruel real world but is that what we want to teach our children? We want to promote crushing raw and natural talent, just so the mediocre kids  whose parents run the school get ahead? I don’t mind being a outsider because I don’t crave the validation of belonging to a group of people who don’t understand how to evaluate a persons true worth but I do mind that my daughter has her hard work crushed because of school politics.

My message to those parents and parents like that is: Shame on you, shame on you for pushing your own agenda and promoting your child when they didn’t deserve something. By false promotion, you are only setting your child up for failure when they realize in the real world they aren’t above society.

Genevieve will survive, she will learn from this to fight back, to fight adversity. In some ways, I feel sorry for those parents who don’t get it.  So now, I will sit back take a deep breathe and figure out, “How to fight a corrupted system”.

I want to add that Genevieve felt that there were two projects, outside of her own, that she felt were deserving of winning because of a scientifically based hypothesis and very nice presentation; these two children are also new this year. They also did not hand out participation or honorable mention awards, also pointed out by Genevieve as the wrong this to do.

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