Some grades not found on a report card

Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ironton High School’s curriculum, and the proficiency with which it is taught, is evaluated by the state of Ohio every year.

Reading, science, math and history are the major target areas in these evaluations, the outcomes of which are based primarily on student performances on a state mandated exam, the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT).

But so far this school year, several more valuable lessons have been taught by the IHS staff … lessons that are impossible to measure via any form of testing.

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Those lessons are empathy, compassion, caring, benevolence, grace, kindness, charity, thoughtfulness, morality and altruism.

Feel free to toss in any other synonym you can think of to define people who selflessly take care of other people.

Last Sunday’s Tribune featured another story about popular IHS junior Bethany Bibb, a cystic fibrosis sufferer who needs a double lung transplant to survive.

The story described the effort the student body has put into raising funds to offset the monstrous medical costs Bethany and her family are facing.

My oldest daughter, Katie, is a sophomore at IHS. She’s talked for months about the emphasis her teachers have placed on students pitching in to support Bethany. It’s easy to see that she is learning something much more valuable than a standard, measurable education. She’s learning the wonderful effects of helping others.

As I read this story, chill bumps formed on my back. From Principal Joe Rowe allowing his goatee to be shaved to the image of the Chain of Hope lining the gymnasium floor to the photo of Bethany’s smiling face lined by oxygen tubes as she applied an electric razor to Rowe’s chin, I saw people opening their hearts to give a young girl and her family hope.

I imagined how I would feel if I was in the same situation as Jerry and Elizabeth Bibb.

I saw an attitude within a school system that transcends traditional learning and focuses on our main purpose in life: to take care of one another.

The staff at IHS deserves recognition for leading by example and teaching our children the value of caring for those in need. The students deserve praise for rallying around a fellow classmate at a time when she needs them most.

Bethany Bibb must be a very special young lady.

I hope she sees the effect her life is having on the students and staff at IHS. I hope she knows that her classmates are spreading hope on her behalf throughout this community.

If compassion ever becomes an indicator on the OGT, mark Ironton High School down as Superior.

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at