Steve Fordham is arguably the most important award given at the annual ceremony. After a year of achievements, the prize is bestowed on the student who sets high standards for the rest of the generation. With much excitement and anticipation, rows full of students listen to the usual mysterious he/she description of the winner in each grade, before finally hearing who the recipient is. Although the award represents excellence, it has become almost predictable.
After interviews with more than 40 students of different grade levels, the general consensus is that there is a tendency for runner-ups and winners to be the same people every year. This is not intended to undermine the value of the Steve Fordham winners, they deserve all the credit for their accomplishments. Students are under the impression that teachers tend to overlook those who still give their best everyday but don’t excell as much as their highly academic counterparts.
11th grader Jimena Villarreal expressed her dissatisfaction with this repetition saying: “There’s 160 people in the generation, why should the same people be chosen every year?” Students also pointed out the fact that teachers “only know them inside the classrooms”, leaving aside the importance of how a person acts beyond school grounds.
Although this is true, Mr. Gerber, who has taught at ASFM for over 20 years said, “If the same names appear in more than one year, it may be because often the same people are very good year after year.”
Ms. O’Dwyer, 12th grade team leader agreed. "Although we do take in consideration student voice, we essentially don't want students being nominated based on popularity rather than merit."
Teachers are informed by their team leaders on the characteristics that define a Steve Fordham nominee.
Brainstorm and nominate their candidates in a spreadsheet.
Only past Steve Fordham award winners are ineligible, there is no official record of runner-ups.
Comment on candidates. A rejection from just one teacher could eliminate him/her from the list.
Survey is sent to students. These serve as a guide for teachers to see opinion of peers.
Teachers have final discussions and elect nominees and winner. This last process varies between generations.
There are other major awards, like Carlos de la Garza in 9th and American Legion in 12th, that balance out the recipients.
Since the 2016-2017 school year, the grade 9 team changed its process. A survey is sent out to students who name their nominees, and out of that pool of names, teachers can only vote for those with at least five nominations.
An award as prestigious as the Steve Fordham deserves a well thought-out process in order to choose its winner. Several seniors, among them Marcelo Torres and Diego Scala, confessed that the greater implementation of student voice would increase its prestige, while keeping in mind the opinion of a whole generation. Perspectives teachers and students hold on a person differ, therefore the necessity of considering both views. The previous school term, a generation that was satisfied with its nominees was 9th, the only grade level to fully incorporate the students in the election process. “Last year was great! Oly, Fran, María, and Jorge’s prizes were very deserved,” commented now 10th grader Paloma Elizondo. If one thing is clear, it is that students demand a higher participation, since their contribution would signify the election of a peer who is truly Steve Fordham quality.
Always the bridesmaid but never the bride… these students have been very close to winning the Steve Fordham more than once.
Nayeli Colyer (1999)
Steve Fordham: 1st grade
1RU: 8th, 10th, 11th
Álvaro Bustindui (2000)
Steve Fordham: 2nd grade
María Giacoman (2001)
Steve Fordham: Never
1RU: 7th, 9th
Melanie Cottrell (2002)
Steve Fordham: 1st grade
What does a Steve Fordham need to win?
According to ASFM’s website
Based on teacher and student vote
Best exemplifies the qualities of leadership, citizenship, responsibility, friendliness, academic excellence, sportsmanship, and cooperation.
Committed to student life
Contributes to sports, school activities, and clubs
Contributes to school environment
Respected by generation
Love for life
Must be passing all classes in overall average as of 3rd qtr verified by office calculations
Must have started school at least by the beginning of current year
Important points from our Interviews:
9th Grade team leader: Mr Gagnier.
9th- Survey is sent to all students, then teachers narrow down the results to short list of at least 5 people, then survey all teachers in 9th grade, to then vote for 1,2,3. As a group we discuss the results
It may get a little repetitive through the years.
There is an attempt to minimize repetition
Balance with scholarship character, what is student like in classroom
If a student is not mentioned by teachers, they vote and they normally go out.
Well rounded student - a student is more than academic grades
Winner should be dedicated to sport, arts, CSL hours, students with initiative that take charge that organize activities.
Demonstrate who they are as character. Solid and consistent, selfless and want to help others, seen and heard.
10th Grade team leader: Ms. Cortés
The Steve Fordham honors very special people
Everybody who teaches a grade 10 course to nominate a candidate according to characteristics. Survey that is send on the month of May.
Teachers need to stay in ASFM building longer than working hours…. Go through the names looking at them from different lenses
Involvement in school activities
Erase those names with less checkmarks. It starts with 8 or 10 names, and then ends up with 5.
Every teacher in the room casts 3-2-1 vote. 3 being their top choice, 2 being their second choice, 1 being their third choice.
Has to be well rounded, part of involvement in school life
Strong academic grade
Many different types of candidates
Try to keep it positive - not who is a bad, but instead who deserves it.
11th Grade Team Leader: Ms. Del Bosque
The election process
Se les informa a los maestros en qué consiste
Spreadsheet for teachers to nominate
Información de candidatos se les da por team leader (promedio, leader, csl..)
Cada maestro pone comentarios, un comentario negativo lo descalifica
Mandan survey G11, lleva dos años haciéndolo
Nosotros vemos una cosa muy diferente a lo que ven los alumnos
Lo que cuenta al final es lo que votan los maestros
Nunca hay peleas
En la práctica debemos tomar más en cuenta los alumnos
Disciplinary action dealbreaker, que no haya cumplido con cosas como lo mínimo indispensable
Quisiera darle mas oportunidad a otra gente
Many are overlooked por ser callados
12th Grade Teacher: Mr. Gerber
It's always been the award
That's an incredible collection of people
12th grade process
Look at criteria
Nominate a bunch of people
Start talking about students
Spend a lot of time choosing
In some years we send a poll to the students — no one nominates, it says something about the student
Helps decide, rethink candidates
Teachers look at each year individually
It’s the same people every year because the same people are really good every year.
12th grade Steve Fordham is more of a big deal
Teachers try to spread the wealth with subject awards
We get into gigantic arguments about this, we really spend time to get it right