Latin Contemplates Honoring the “Honors” Title

Emily Bernhardt Latin is removing the title of “honors” from all of its classes. Just kidding! But how would you feel if I wasn’t? The student body has conflicting views on the topic: some feel that honors classes are a necessary part of any high school education, while others think that it is a title that some students take way too seriously. It’s hard to imagine Latin’s high school without “honors” and “regular” science, math, language, and history courses. For what seems like forever, this separation has remained an unquestioned part of Latin’s academic curriculum. After all, offering both “honors” and “regular” versions of courses is conventional for most high schools. But Latin’s title as an “independent” and “private” school allows more freedom in designing the structure of their academic classes. This flexibility is why Latin’s Student Academic Board (SAB) has taken a closer look at these labels and discussed whether or not honors classes are actually necessary. SAB’s meetings have focused on the pros and cons of honors classes and have remained relatively informal. Despite some opposition, the majority of SAB has argued that joining an honors track can oftentimes be confusing to students who are unaware of each department’s differing procedures, said Ethan MacCumber ’17, member of SAB. “[We also] discussed the differences— and sometimes lack thereof— between honors and regular classes and whether it’s even worth dividing the grade,” said MacCumber, who agrees with these points and believes that the divide between “honors” and “regular” classes is not necessary for mandatory classes. “Personally, and I’m not speaking for the SAB, I think the mandatory classes (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Global Cities, Language, etc.) should not have honors options. I think that students who have a particular affinity toward a subject should be able to take an honors elective in that subject if they so desire. That way, every student can have the same general knowledge in every subject, and they can ‘specialize’ by taking an honors elective,” said MacCumber. Lori Der Sahakian ‘19 is also in favor of removing— or at least reducing— the “honors” label on Latin’s courses. “Some people do take an honors class purely for the joy of the subject and sincerely want more work. Others use the classes to look good on college applications, which sucks because we have all these awesome classes we are more interested in and fit for, but instead people take honors classes for the purpose of using the label ‘honors’ to impress others,” said Sahakian. However, Latin is far from reaching a consensus to erase honors classes from its curriculum. Plenty of students at Latin would be horrified at the removal of certain honors labels. One sophomore, who requested to remain anonymous, said that she likes the honors program the way that it is and would be “upset” to see it change. “Honors courses allow students to move at faster paces and challenge themselves. Its also good for colleges to know that you show a certain level of commitment and interest in a subject,” she said. The title “honors” means different things to everyone. Some see it as “more work” and others believe honors classes are “harder” or make you “smarter” (see Stephanie Racker’s article on What It Means to Be an “Honors Student”). No matter how hard we try to resist them, labels still affect us. Just because Latin’s “honors” courses are not going to be taken away tomorrow, does not mean that it’s a part of a perfect system.]]>