Olympic Commentators Grade High School Essays

We’re here at the kitchen table, where we’ve got no fewer than 150 high school essays in front of us as we begin our Sunday Night Gradathon. Starting off Period 1 is Phil, whose essay on To Kill a Mockingbird may shape up to be one of his best yet. But will Phil’s best be able to compete with literally anything that comes from Jasmine’s pen? Tune in after the break to find out.

All right, we’re half a glass of wine in, and Phil’s essay is looking great! Solid thesis statement, choice quotes directly from the source, and some unexpectedly beautiful critical thinking! I don’t think we’ve seen that from him all year! But wait, is that … ? It is. It’s a sentence fragment. Oh no, and there’s another one. We’re approaching the conclusion, let’s see if he can end with a bang and make these ideas stick — yikes! He left off the conclusion completely! Sorry, Phil, there’s no way you can get more than an 80.

Next up: Clara. Clara is the first black student to make it into Honors English at this particular high school —yes, that’s right, it’s 2016 — but we’re not going to discuss this significant milestone because we don’t want to offend any teachers, parents, or students who are concerned that they might be at all complicit in their school’s racist history. Let’s just grade her essay real quick — 98%! Great job, Clara! — and move on. Wow, are we lucky to live in this post-racial society or what?

Jasmine is looking to get her fourth straight A+ in English class. Wouldn’t it be great to cap off senior year with an achievement like that? English isn’t her only strength, either; she’s already gotten straight A’s in social studies, Spanish, and even math. So unusual to see from a female student! She’s basically the Jason of high school!

(For those who don’t know, Jason was this kid who did really well in high school a few years back. We kind of lost track of him after that, but we hear he’s coming back to high school for a fifth year! Amazing!)

Anyway, can’t wait to see what Jasmine has to offer us. In the meantime, let’s take another break.

We’re back from the break, two glasses of wine in now, and just want to give you all a little taste of Jasmine’s sob story. Tough childhood, some teachers who didn’t understand her potential, and even a stretch of sick days last semester. Will she be able to earn that coveted valedictorian spot? Or with this essay — and with it, her dreams of getting into a top college — fall flat?

Jasmine’s eagerly awaited essay will be coming right up, but first let’s take a look at some other highlights from other courses.

Over in Spanish class, Team USA is looking great; can you hear how hard they’re working to try and pronounce words mostly correctly? Who cares if they’re bottom of the class right now? At least they are very vocal about their efforts. Let’s ignore the higher-ranked Spanish-speaking students and celebrate Team USA with some dubiously placed Latin dance music!

Well, it’s practically midnight and this bottle of wine is juuuuuust about empty, so it’s about time to wrap things up. But first, let’s check on Jasmine’s essay, which we actually graded hours ago but have been saving for a climactic moment such as this.

As a reminder, in Jasmine’s last essay, she misspelled fortuitous, leaving off the second o. Will she nail it this time?

… She does. Very solid.

Once again, Jasmine proves why she is at the top of her class with an extraordinary thesis. No one in this grade is doing anywhere near the level of critical thinking that Jasmine is. And she achieves that level with such sensitivity to details such as word choice and spelling — well, except for that misplaced comma right there, oops.

Dare I say it? Jasmine may be the best student I’ve ever seen at this high school. Possibly in the world. No, I don’t grade essays from students around the world, but I’m pretty confident in this statement, don’t worry about it.

She ends her essay with a flourish; that’s a conclusion we’ll remember for a while. Now, let me check on my rubric … this might take a while because of the wine … ah yes, a 98%! That puts her in … oh, looks like she tied with Clara for first place!

Way to go, Jasmine!

And with that, we’re off to bed. It’ll be an early morning for all of us tomorrow, but especially for Jasmine, who is likely to be up late celebrating. Congratulations, Jasmine!

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