Privilege Cards Should Live Up To Their Name


By Julie Fortin

Class of 2010


  Every year the same question arises from the aggravated, self-righteous student:  What is even the point of Privilege Cards if we don’t actually have any privileges?  Privilege Cards have always been offered to honors students as an incentive to do well in school; however, these cards have been becoming pointless because of their failure to provide actual benefits to students.  One would think that after so much speculation on an issue that something would be done.  However, even with with the alteration and additions to the Student Handbook this year – and every year – the rules are still in need of improvement.

  First, as students get older and display good conduct along with above-average effort in school, they should be rewarded with increased benefits as a way to make sure this behavior is continued.

  One of these potential incentives would be regarding the most heated debate:  coffee.  On a given day, countless students are seen stuffing their steaming Dunkies cups under jackets and into backpacks in the hopes of a morning pick-me-up.  With good reason, all of these rule-breakers are simply looking for a way to maintain consciousness for the first few periods, as they probably did not make it to bed until after midnight on account of sports, clubs, homework, etc.  However, students are almost always caught and punished for their blatant breaking of the rule.

  In giving kids merely the chance to drink their coffee, many more students are bound to try harder for that chance.  Thus, other increased privileges might actually encourage more students – who may be on the C+/B- line to try just a little harder to achieve the B, thus providing students and teachers with a win-win situation: students receive the goal they strive for, while also giving a boost to their transcripts and reflecting the efforts of their teachers.

  One proposed compromise on the issue of coffee is to permit students with privileges to drink the beverage until the end of first period.  Inevitably, there are also downsides to this potential resolution: those students would be required to carry their Privilege Cards with them at all times, students without privileges may feel cheated, and spills would still not be 100% avoidable.  Nonetheless, these issues are not reason to deprive worthy and capable students the right to coffee.  As students with privileges are those that have displayed the most academic responsibility, it is only fair to grant them equal responsibility to teachers in the case of coffee consumption. Also, they should rightly be able to hold a cup of hot liquid without incident – if not, then they could be forced to assist in clean up or have their privilege suspended.  In addition to being an easy agreement in carrying a small paper cards in order to – without punishment – drink coffee, this solution would better students’ performance in school as a result of their motivation for this right.

  Besides the potential coffee amendment, administration needs to consider expanding the list of benefits from Privilege Cards.  One new way to appeal to students is to offer them – in addition to their free admission to on-campus events – a discount on school store items, including food, drinks, t-shirts, and water bottles with their Privilege Cards.  Also, in order to revise the current ‘benefit’ of privileges allowing students access to the library during study halls, students could also be permitted to travel to the cafeteria or possibly to some outdoor seating area during their free periods.  Furthermore – while in the cafeteria – these students with privileges could have the ability to purchase items at the snack bar or from one of the many beverage machines.  Students would undoubtedly be up for a midday snack; thus, the concept of privileges would be reinstated with the added enticement of students to perform better in school in order to benefit.

  Students who remain on honor roll for the duration of two consecutive semesters could also be subject to win a drawing or contest of some sort.  All students who maintain an 80+ average in all of their courses for two or more semesters would be entered into a drawing, while students who have racked up additional semesters will have their name entered repeatedly for a heightened chance of success.  Some of the rewards could include school store apparel, gift certificates to the snack bar or a free ice cream at lunch.

  Not to say that privileges should act as form of bribery – for students are required to put in every effort to receive the grade that they are capable of – but rather, students who may exhibit adequate effort could simply find a new goal with desired privileges.  Furthermore, seniors should be offered even more added incentives if they continue to achieve honor roll following the first-term.  In doing so, ‘Senioritis’ would be less of a problem if students still feel as though they have purpose in maintaining their standards – even after they have finished applying to college, or even been accepted into the university of their choice.

  Also, as all students would have the opportunity to be able to receive these privileges, motivation would increase amongst the student body at WHS; however, the realization of this potential would be up to the students to achieve the 80+ grade in their classes.  If any or all of these solutions were to be implemented, the significance of privilege cards would be reestablished and students would feel a sense of purpose, appeasement and motivation, while administration would have the opportunity to benefit the entire population of Walpole High School.