By ALEX DE WIT
TORONTO, ON — The Ministry of Education revealed Friday that the grades of Ontario high school students reached an all-time high this year, crediting the province’s world-class teachers, its diligent students, and their supportive parents for the meteoric rise in marks over the past year.
“We are extremely proud of our education system’s continuing success this academic year; it exemplifies the dedication of our staff to year- after-year improvement,” it stated, referencing the 20-year streak of setting new record-highs every year. “Our students are taking great initiative in following their predecessors’ example of tireless work in the pursuit of high marks.”
The press release specifically highlighted another aspect of the impressive achievement: “This year marks the first time that our students collectively achieved an average grade of over 100,” it read. “Their collective average of 102.187 is indicative of truly special work on the part of our students and teachers.”
“It really does start with our students,” said Kali Frizzell, the principal of Ragsil Institutional College, a high school renowned in Ottawa for the quality of its teachers and the high marks of its students. “They’re really bright people; they enter the school in Grade 9 confident and ready to do as much work as they feel they need to. They’re fierce advocates for the quality of their work, and are never afraid to ask teachers for clarification on how they’ve been marked or point out mistakes the teacher made grading their tests. And they’re supported by parents who aren’t too shy to stand up for their children.”
Ms. Frizzell added that her students aren’t afraid to approach school administration if they have a problem in their academic studies. “We try to foster an inclusive and safe environment where students are welcome to share their voices in all aspects of the educational process. That way, everyone involved can receive constructive criticism and improve themselves, both as a participant in the classroom and as a person.”
Ms. Frizzell highlighted Vinny Huszarik, the top student of this year’s graduating class, as one of those students who goes to great lengths to ensure that he gets the best possible mark: this year, that was a 127.2 percent. “I make sure I take an active role in my education,” said Vinny about his success this year. “I communicate with my teachers and frequently remind them that my entire future depends on how they mark my assignments.”
Vinny’s friends credit his unwavering work ethic and giftedness for his success at the high school level. They said that he often pores over his tests after they’re returned to him so that he can find every mistake in his teachers’ work and give feedback on their marking skills. His friends report that his superior reasoning skills are a great help to his studies, because they help him convince his teachers to give him every possible part mark or subjective boost in every subject from Math to English.
“I’m in awe of what he does,” confided one of his closest friends. “I wish I could do once what he does every day. I mean, he got what, 125? 130? Something like that. And I only got a 103.”
One of Vinny’s teachers, Mr. Blythe Marker, says that these kinds of students are valuable role models for the rest of his class. “I absolutely love it when students challenge me and ask me to explain my reasoning; it’s so enjoyable to spend half the class answering my students’ queries about my grading policies. It creates a level playing field where students feel they can address me just like they address their peers, which eliminates the terrible power dynamic in which so many of our classrooms are steeped today. It’s so satisfying to mark all my tests three times, because that means I’m giving my students the best possible marks.”
But even with the impressive rise in marks this year, not everyone is happy with the way their studies are going. “I’m really disappointed with my average,” said Andrew Zorrilla, who earned a 98. “I don’t know where I lost marks. I attended most of my classes every week, spent five minutes on homework every weekend, and handed every assignment in on time, or maybe a day late at most! I fulfilled all the requirements of the course, so I don’t know why I didn’t get 100!” Because of his below-average grades, Andrew won’t be able to attend the University of of Watergoose for Astrophysical Medicine, which has been his dream for the last ten years. “I know I should have looked over those tests and essays one more time, and begged my teachers for higher marks and boosts before midterms!” he said, before running to the washroom to cry.
Phyllis Zorrilla, Andrew’s mother, is likewise aghast at her son’s marks. “I always thought that the school system should place an emphasis on evaluating students as individuals, not as identical puzzle pieces. The province, instead of making our poor children feel bad about themselves, needs to teach everyone that they’re perfect in their own way and they can be a valuable contributor to society without conforming to the world’s expectations. My little Andy-boy deserves that 100, because he is perfect just the way he is.”
Even though some of its students are still struggling, the province doesn’t plan on ending their commitment to year-after-year improvement. They finished off their press release with a goal for next year: to reach a collective average of 105 percent, as even more entitled, bossy, and mark-oriented students, and their parents enter secondary schools from the elementary level.