Oxford Cup policy may be revisited

Since 1930, the Oxford Cup had been awarded at commencement to one graduating Oxford High senior who showed the best all-around development.

That all changed in 2012, when the honor became shared by one male and one female student.

Since 2012, there has been a male and a female winner of the coveted Oxford Cup, but that could change.
Since 2012, there has been a male and a female winner of the coveted Oxford Cup, but that could change.

Following a school board meeting last Tuesday, several school officials said that change may be revisited after Marj Mihalyfi, a retired Oxford teacher, brought the issue to the board’s attention.

Mihalyfi said she had been told by Oxford High staff that the change was made in response to larger senior classes and because there were “not enough girls were winning the award.”

Mihalyfi voiced her disagreement with the new selection process.

“(Gender) has nothing to do with strength,” Mihalyfi told the board. “It’s the best in the class by personality, leadership, grades, whatever, but I don’t think it has to do with whether you’re a boy or a girl.”

Selected by a vote of the junior and senior classes, along with the OHS faculty, the winners of the award must exhibit proficiency in scholarship, friendly social qualities, well-balanced physical development and superior school citizenship.

Additionally, Mihalyfi told the board she felt giving the cup to two students, rather than one, took away from the weight of the award. “I do think you diminish the awe of the award the more people you give it to,” she said. “I think when it was just one… (even when) there were ties, I think it (really said) ‘You’re the best.’”

Board Trustee Jim Reis said he would like to learn more about the OHS staff’s decision to change it before taking action.

“I’d like to know the history of the high school and what they thought at that time (and) what the reasoning was behind (changing the policy) . . . because just hearing it stated, I’m kind of wondering the same thing. I remember coming to the high school and everyone was in awe of it. I never thought it was a gender thing, just a very special award,” said Reis.

According to several board members, the board had a brief discussion regarding a change in the selection process for the award, but had taken no action at a board meeting back in 2012.

“I remember (former Superintendent) Bill (Skilling) sharing that the high school had contacted him and they wanted to have two (recipients), one boy and one girl. We didn’t vote on it. We didn’t take action,” said Vice President Kim Shumaker.

Board Treasurer Mike Schweig said he felt the decision to change the long-standing award’s selection process had been too hasty.

“This is a tradition (since 1930) and it’s decided in one night over a verbal thing from the (former) superintendent . . . There was no conversation? That’s what I want to find out,” Schweig said. “Something as monumental as this (was) seemingly decided with no information whatsoever. I wasn’t on the board (at the time,) but we need to operate under more formal guidance input. The board needs to question (what happened).”

According to Superintendent Tim Throne, the board will be revisiting the issue with OHS staff in the coming school year.

“I’m going to follow-up with (staff at) the high school. Many of them are out of town or on summer break right now, so I think it will be a little bit before we have the opportunity to go back and collect all the information, but I’ll be reporting back to the board on that,” Throne told this reporter.


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