16 Valedictorians Too Many
This year, there are 17 valedictorians. That means that at graduation, 17 seniors will be named the academic crème of the crop at Allderdice. But can there really be 17 “best” students? Doesn’t having 17 defeat the purpose of their being a “best”?
In a graduating class of 350, to have 17 students named Valedictorian means that Allderdice is recognizing 5 percent of its graduating class. To determine such a large percentage of students as intellectually exceptional not only dilutes the honor, but causes the school to look less legitimate.
Most schools nationwide have one valedictorian. Last year, Allderdice had 10; the year before, 5. To have 17 is unheard of, especially because it poses the question of grade inflation, which negatively reflects Allderdice. If Universities catch the pattern that there are 17 students ranked #1 in the class of 2012, will they question the difficulty of the school in the future?
Allderdice currently chooses valedictorians purely by grade point average and nothing else. Any student who has a 4.0 GPA unweighted is given the honor of Valedictorian regardless of what classes he or she has taken. However, this system does not take into consideration that the level of rigor in PSP is not the same as in CAS. It is no secret that a CAS curriculum has higher expectations and moves faster, making it more difficult to earn an A.
In the past, there has been no way for our valedictorian-Choosing System to take class rigor into consideration, because CAS classes were not offered to every student. However, as of next year, any student who wishes to enroll in a CAS class can. This enables every student to have the opportunity to take the most difficult classes at Allderdice.
Our valedictorians should not only reflect those who receive A’s; they should reflect those who challenge themselves and succeed. This means that they should be enrolled in an all CAS curriculum (unless the class is not offered by CAS) and taking the most difficult levels of every subject. For instance, the difference between AP-AB Calculus and AP-BC Calculus is huge – AB covers in two semesters what BC covers in one. Our current system rewards the student who took AB and got an A, but does not acknowledge the student who took BC and received a high B. Is that really fair?
Here is my solution. We need to start by only allowing students who are in the all-around toughest classes with 4.0 GPA’s to be considered for valedictorian. Once those students are chosen, a committee of administrators, counselors and teachers who are familiar with the student body will meet to discuss the students as individuals and take into account what they do other than academics. The committee will then determine two valedictorians, one male and one female, who represent the best of Allderdice.
Obviously, this system has not been tested at Allderdice, and there is no way to know if it would succeed in a system as complicated as ours. But, it is worth a shot. If nothing else, it may earn an A for effort.