Are Academics Receiving as Much Acknowledgement as they Should?

Academics have been constantly overlooked passed sports and other extracurricular activities, but how did it get to this point?


Academics is basically what school is meant for. It is the building blocks for how we move forward into society. However, as time progresses, it seems as though more and more students don’t care about their academic success. What could’ve possibly led to this? 

Whenever thinking about academics, it doesn’t seem to get noticed as much as it should. That’s what makes it sad because academics are what leads us into what we plan to do in the future. But how does that necessarily help us if students aren’t really caring about how they do academically? As time goes on, it seems that students are doing the bear minimum just to be able to graduate. Students are passing with C’s and D’s and graduating with negative grades while others are working hard to get excellent grades. To understand why this is happening, I met with Mr. Quarnburg, the principal at Herriman High School, and Mr. Andrus, an experienced educator, to get their point of views. 

Mr. Quarnburg has been the principal of Herriman High for about four years now, and he has clearly made a point of showing how much he cares about the students at this school based on the interview. When asked if he thinks academics are being overlooked, he replies with “I personally don’t believe that it is. Our school is actually succeeding a lot more than most of the other schools in the district. It’s not just about athletics, but we also have the highest graduation rate. Each year is different in funding, but in reality, I believe that they are equalized.”

He goes on about the differences between when he first started his career and now, “I think the first thing that I noticed was the lack of AP and Concurrent opportunities and the very first year that I came, we almost doubled the amount of AP and Concurrent opportunities. When I first came, I knew that we can do more, so we’ve been adding more high academic classes.”

Then he explains by saying, “….when I say comprehensive high school, it’s now becoming more than just getting these kids to the University of Utah and that’s our focus and goal. That’s not our focus and goal. I will prepare those kids for the University of Utah if that’s what they choose to do, but I think we need to broaden what we’re pushing kids towards or preparing them for because the trades have become very popular and financially lucrative for students who go into that.”

As you can see from how he responded to the questions, he is definitely caring for his students’ progression in all sorts of ways, whether it is academically, athletically, or in the performing arts. 

Although, all he’s really explaining is how academics are really being helped. He mentions that we have the highest graduation rate, but is that really an accomplishment if students aren’t putting their full potential into their grades? 

Despite the fact that Herriman High has the highest graduation in the Jordan School District, that doesn’t mean that the academic system is effective. A lot of these reasons that students don’t put their full effort into their grades can be blamed by the school. There are plenty of reasons for why students aren’t putting any effort into their grades and these can be explained by 15 Reasons Why students graduate with poor grades, a website that gives academic information and written by someone by the name of Joeme that has given different examples about personal and school effects on students grades. 

I decided that we can’t just have one opinion, so I interviewed someone who has been at the school since it first opened, Mr. Andrus, a US History teacher who was very enthusiastic when he first heard about the interview. Andrus first describes Herriman as having a really strong emphasis on sports when it first started and explaining that academics have been growing as time goes on. He states, “the amount of AP classes and Concurrent classes have been going up, but one of the things about academics is that it may seem like it’s not very well emphasized, but academics are kind of a sleeper, they don’t make the papers,” while adding more people would notice something being won in sports rather than acknowledging the accomplishments in academics.

He goes on to say that Herriman started off as a “very much sports-oriented situation and academics grew into play.” They weren’t seen as something as important compared to sports. He mentions that both the previous principal, Mr. Birch, and our current principal, Mr. Quarnburg, “hired people” on purpose, to build academic programs, but it takes time.

In short, Herriman High has been highly focused on other extracurricular activities since day one. Although it’s been said that academics are trying to be equalized, they aren’t fully at Herriman. Surely as time progresses it will be something that is prioritized, but quoting Andrus,“it takes time.”