San Dieguito district discusses recognizing student accomplishments at board meetings

The San Dieguito Union High School District board discussed the possibility of recognizing student achievements at its monthly board meetings at the request of Trustee Mo Muir.

“They should be acknowledged,” Muir said, adding that she would love to see students receive a proclamation from the board. “The students are what we’re all about, they do amazing things and it would be great to hear about them.”

Muir said recognizing the students would not only show that the board appreciates what they do, but also would help to promote the district.

As it turns out, the district’s students are so accomplished, it’s hard to decide where to even begin to honor their many achievements, according to Jason Viloria, executive director of educational services.

Viloria said that honoring students is not considered a key function of the school board. He reported that 75 percent of high school students are recognized for Honor Roll each year, representing 9,000 students district-wide. Students receive thousands of awards including recognition at sports team banquets, school award ceremonies and in numerous outside competitions.

“How do we single out one award over the others? That’s a real challenge for us,” Viloria said.

As Superintendent Rick Schmitt noted, they always try to balance recognition of students with the competitive nature of the district — they don’t even have valedictorians,nor do they rank students because of the “ultra-competitive, unhealthy environment” that can create.

He noted that student accomplishments are often recognized in the district’s social media postings on Facebook as well in local traditional media.

“I do not think that (recognizing student accomplishments) is our role as school board representatives,” said Trustee Joyce Dalessandro. “We are representing kids so that they have the best possible education that we can provide them with the funds we have and the staff that we have.”

She said it was completely not feasible to honor the number of kids among all 10 schools and to ask staff members to choose among the accomplishments.

Trustee John Salazar suggested that the student representatives from each school site could single out a few students as part of their presentations at meetings. Schmitt said site principals could do the same when they visit board meetings, and that they would additionally keep board members informed of awards ceremonies, should they like to attend.

Renee Haerle, the student representative from La Costa Canyon, assured the board that the current methods of honoring students are adequate.

“Students will still feel good about what they’ve accomplished without being recognized by the board,” Renee said.