The Du Bois Award is one of the highest honors at Boston Prep, awarded each week to one deserving student in front of the entire school community. Named after W. E. B. Du Bois, the award recognizes a student who embodies the core values of Boston Prep -- courage, compassion, integrity, perseverance, and respect. The award is an opportunity to highlight students who have shown high levels of academic achievement or growth along with a high level of character development. In essence, Du Bois Award winners are students who embody the mission of Boston Prep.
Every Boston Prep teacher has the privilege of presenting the Du Bois Award one time each year. As such, the selection of a student to honor is not taken lightly. Teachers collaborate with one another in the selection process to ensure that honored students are truly excelling in their demonstration of ethical behavior in all contexts, both in and out of the classroom and across subject areas.
Students are excited to win the award and receive recognition in front of their peers and teachers, but this is a small part of its impact. Director of Ethics and Instruction, Adam Dobberfuhl, explains, "Du Bois Award winners are seen by other members of the community as models of success. They highlight not only strong starts but also stories of growth and struggle. Students wear their Du Bois shirts with pride that extends well beyond the community meeting in which they were announced. Students in all grade levels talk about striving for the Du Bois Award, with seniors that have not yet won setting challenges for themselves to meet the demands of the award prior to graduation."
Recently, Melissa, a Boston Prep senior, was honored with the Du Bois Award by Ms. Comfort-Cole. Copied below is Ms. Comfort-Cole's speech recognizing Melissa's growth, dedication, and
"Effort determines success." We say it all the time here at Boston Prep so sometimes we can forget to stop and really actually think about what it means. Is it just doing your homework? Does completion define success? This week’s Du Bois Award recipient reminds us that the phrase “effort determines success” means that independently investing in challenging work, asking important questions, advocating for your needs, all in the name of working towards concrete goals leads to the success of overcoming obstacles, long-term GPA increases, strong college options, and increased confidence in oneself as an academic.
What has always stood out about this student is her independence. Since she came to this country, she has achieved everything for herself by herself, including overcoming the challenge of learning English. I’m not going to lie; in the past, her independence has led to some challenging interactions between us, when this student firmly believed in her perspective without the ability to see a different view. Today, however, this student independently puts the effort in to work hard and understand content even when it is challenging or when other students are not investing the same effort. As her ethics teacher says, "This person has a true passion for learning and understanding, and her effort has led to her strong voice. She is passionate about what she believes but also at the same time able to listen and appreciate views that are different from her own. This is a very difficult balance to strike, and something that all people of conviction struggle to achieve."
This student’s Latin teacher really captures how this student’s effort has led to her success as an academic when she says, “This student has been a true leader in Latin IV this year. She comes to class with a variety of questions that both clarify understanding of the text and deepen the analysis of the text for both herself and the class. It is clear to me that she has high expectations for herself, and she is working to meet them every day.”
I have known this student for many years and have been able to personally see how her sheer effort has led to tremendous growth not only as a student but as a person, helping her develop into a loyal, independent, passionate, strong young woman. I am incredibly excited and honored to give the Du Bois Award to Melissa.
To meet more of Boston Prep's Du Bois Award winners, follow us on Facebook today. Each Friday, we publish the speech shared in honor of the newest Du Bois award winner.