Many reasons to celebrate local schools

Families of local students have been attending academic and athletic awards ceremonies, spring concerts, orientations for new schools and all kinds of graduations: pre-K, kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade, high school and maybe even more than we know about.

Final exams just wrapped up. Many students are now finished for the year while the rest have a mixed bag of half-days, assemblies and fun activities planned for this week, the last of the 2016-17 school year.

It’s all part of the June whirlwind.

After attending a few of the ceremonies, concerts and such in recent weeks, we just want to say how much we appreciate our local schools: teachers and coaches, administrators and janitors, office staff and parents, and most importantly students.

Academics are a school’s top priority, of course, and it is right to give top students some well-deserved recognition. We disagree with the national trend of schools not having valedictorians, salutatorians or class rankings. Being a good student takes hard work, no matter how naturally intelligent one is, and young people need to know that their efforts will be rewarded. We’re glad our local schools don’t try to cover up hard-earned achivement.

Athletic awards ceremonies provide nice summaries of each team’s season, recognizing top achivers — who deserve it — as well as team contributors, and giving special credit to teams that did well academically. Hall of Fame inductions give important perspective on the past. It celebrates what is best about high school sports: dignity, effort and the sense of belonging to a team as well as a larger community.

Concerts in the Tri-Lakes schools always blow us away because it’s hard to believe local kids can be so good. A school year’s worth of hard work culminates in these spring performances, which are inspired, planned and directed by the amazing music teachers our area is blessed with. While few athletes play sports past their youth, and most don’t play beyond high school — that fleeting aspect is one of sports’ poetic thrills — music is a skill and a joy to last one’s whole life. We constantly applaud our schools for teaching it so well.

The Tri-Lakes area has wonderful schools, and we are grateful.