What do Saint Awards Really Mean?


Saint Award rewarded to Mary Catherine Burtis for Ms. Schmidt’s Drawing and Painting course

Morgan Collett-O'Brien, Student Journalist

It’s around that time again- students wait with expectation in the gymnasium after Mass. They watch as Mr. Monachino walks up to the podium with a folder in hand, containing the highly anticipated Saint Awards. As each award is announced, rounds of applause ring through the gym as each recipient comes forward to receive their certificate. The quarterly Saint Awards have been a long-standing tradition at Seton for years, but teachers and students have varying opinions on the meaning of Saint Awards and how they are selected.

Saint Awards are presented every quarter to one student in every class by that class’s teacher. In the words of Mr. Monachino, Saint Awards are, “a way for a teacher to reward a student who is working to their maximum potential. It’s not designed for the top scorer in the class to get a Saint Award, it’s for a kid who’s working really hard in that particular class, and the teacher would like to recognize that effort.” Many teachers and students agree that the awards benefit students and help raise their morale. “Any time you raise a kid’s self-esteem, it’s always good,” Mr. DeAngelo commented. Sophomore Sophia Burr expressed that “Saint Awards give students something to look forward to and encourage them to stay on top of their work and strive to do well in their classes.” 

Nonetheless, teachers and students have also expressed dissent on the method by which students are selected to receive Saint Awards. There are no exact set criteria for teachers to follow in order to choose a student for the award. However, several teachers believe that the Saint Award has lost its meaning. Mrs. Wright explained that “When I first started to teach here and we had Saint Awards, they were not meant for the ‘A’ student. They were meant for the student who showed they were trying to improve their grade. I think that the kids that have the higher average in the first place don’t need another pat on the back, they already got one with having the grades that are the highest in the class. I think it should go back to giving a boost to the kids that are really trying hard to improve their grades.” Mr. DeAngelo expressed similar sentiments: “It was for kids who were not recognized because they weren’t really doing good in school, but they tried hard… I don’t give Saint Awards out because, in my opinion, it’s now become about the smartest kids in the school, and the whole point was not to give it to those kids because they always got awards. These were for the kids who didn’t do well in school, athletics, or other things.” 

Teachers and students alike find that the selection of Saint Awards seems to be left up to interpretation to some extent. Mr. Monachino looks for a student who, “is engaged in learning the whole time, is working as hard as they can, is not afraid to ask questions or ask for help on their own time, and shows a passion for the subject.” Mr. Jones takes a variety of factors into choosing his Saint Award. He looks for someone whose grade might stand out amongst their peers, whose grade has improved as a result of putting more effort into their studies, or who participates well in class by being respectful, attentive, and asking good questions. He takes these options into account and makes a decision based on who stands out to him. 

Teachers seem to follow the idea of taking into account a student’s effort, attitude, and improvement. But for some students, it is unclear what the award is truly given out for such as Senior Cassandra Ortega: “The teachers all give out Saint Awards for different reasons. There’s no standard for them, so you don’t really know what you’re getting them for. It depends on the teacher, so how can you really decide if you deserve it or not? There should be a reason for getting the award, and no teacher has the same two deciding factors. I think it would be good if there were a few standards for teachers to follow.”

However, some teachers find that the method of choosing students for awards might be better if left up to interpretation. Mr. Jones explained his perception of the issue: “I’ve noticed in the past that there might be someone that is not academically strong, but a teacher picks them. There is a sincere desire to reward someone who’s turning things around, but it could end up getting turned into a joke that that person would receive the award. But, if the awards were meritocratic and competitive, it is true that you run the danger of the same three people getting all the awards.” In order to avoid situations like this, teachers have a spreadsheet on which they enter their selected Saint Award recipient. In this way, teachers may ensure that there is not a single student receiving a multitude of awards, which helps even out the distribution of awards.

Nonetheless, the question still remains: Should teachers be given more guidance on how to select a student for a Saint Award? Or is it better for them to follow their own criteria and preferences for their specific classes?

How should Saint Awards be selected?


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