The REAL Valedictorian vs. the Kid Who Gets To Make the Speech

Mamacita says:  It will always be incomprehensible to me that the valedictorian of a graduating class is, in so many public school sytems, selected after only seven semesters.  The administration’s excuse is usually something about totaling up scores, figuring up averages, blah blah blah scholarship interviews blah blah, but the truth is, there IS no good reason for doing this so early.  It’s just easier.

In this day and age of computers, the student with the highest average and the most leadership points, etc, can be figured up fifteen minutes before the graduation ceremony, and everybody knows it.

That eighth semester is often used by seniors as a goof-off semester; they drop the difficult college-credit classes and anything else that requires a lot of hard work and time, and just take a few senior requirements or electives to fill in the day.   I mean, why bother, when it’s all been tallied and carved in stone after Christmas anyway?

There’s a very fine line between the student who rates #1 in December and a whole lot of other students who are close behind.  The TRUE valedictorian should be the student who rates #1 just a little bit before that graduation ceremony.  “There’s many a slip between cup and lip,” as they used to say, and many things can, and do, happen during that last semester.  A student who is ahead by .2 points is still ahead, even if he/she was behind in January.  Bah on lazy administrators.  Multiple bahs on parents who want their kid up at that mike so badly, they allow this to keep happening.

If anyone can give me a legitimate reason for selecting the valedictorian and salutatorian five months before graduation, I’d love to hear it – as long as it has nothing to do with money, elitism, entitlement, or genealogy.  And I’d bet the farm that there IS no answer that doesn’t have something to do with at least one of those.

I don’t even go to graduations any more, because I know who should have been valedictorian, ie the TRUE valedictorian, and while I know it’s not the fault of the student getting the honor *, I still can’t stand looking at him/her up there giving his/her speech that was written five months ago before his/her average went down eight points from five months of goofing off, while the TRUE valedictorian sits anonymously* * among the graduates, having worked like a dog for EIGHT semesters and having ended up with an average far above the so-called “valedictorian.”

* Except that the “chosen” student knows who the real valedictorian is, too, and apparently doesn’t have the balls to step up to the mike and tell the truth.

**And what’s more, almost everybody in the school knows it, and most of the community knows it, including the kid’s beaming parents who know good and well that Junior or Muffy didn’t really deserve this honor, but hey, grab it if you can! The administration knows it, too, but they don’t care.  Honestly, they don’t.  They just want it all to be over with.  Otherwise, wouldn’t they be doing something about it?

It’s disgraceful, I’m tellin’ ya.

Honestly, I can’t think of a single LEGITIMATE reason why the valedictorian and salutatorian aren’t announced after all of the final exams have been graded and all of the final grades have been posted, just minutes before the ceremony.  Then and only then does the school know who the real #1 student is.


Comments

The REAL Valedictorian vs. the Kid Who Gets To Make the Speech — 28 Comments

  1. I made straight A’s all through high school. Eight semesters, all A’s. One of them, soph year, was an A minus, though, so when the two students with straight A’s were evaluated, the other kid got the Val.

    After the seventh semester, the Val dropped out of all her college prep classes, and goofed off all that semester. I kept working and continued to make A’s. Her last two report cards had D’s and F’s on them, but guess who was still Val.

    Life sucks so hard.

  2. I made straight A’s all through high school. Eight semesters, all A’s. One of them, soph year, was an A minus, though, so when the two students with straight A’s were evaluated, the other kid got the Val.

    After the seventh semester, the Val dropped out of all her college prep classes, and goofed off all that semester. I kept working and continued to make A’s. Her last two report cards had D’s and F’s on them, but guess who was still Val.

    Life sucks so hard.

  3. I agree with you so hard, I might be getting a kidney stone from the surge of YESness. Our system picks the top ten at the end of that seventh semester too, and after that, most of those kids quit working at all. After all, why sweat it when you’re already #1? Administrations seem to be getting dumber and more like puppets every year. As for the good kids who work all eight years, well, who cares about them? Not the administration or counselors, that’s for sure.

  4. I agree with you so hard, I might be getting a kidney stone from the surge of YESness. Our system picks the top ten at the end of that seventh semester too, and after that, most of those kids quit working at all. After all, why sweat it when you’re already #1? Administrations seem to be getting dumber and more like puppets every year. As for the good kids who work all eight years, well, who cares about them? Not the administration or counselors, that’s for sure.

  5. Pingback:   Carnival of Education — Scheiss Weekly

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  7. I work at a private high school and our valedictorian is chosen at the end of 8 semesters, which is much work for me (school counselor) in that last week, but it is only fair to the kids as you said. Other schools in our area also do the early choosing, after 3rd quarter senior year, but why?

  8. I work at a private high school and our valedictorian is chosen at the end of 8 semesters, which is much work for me (school counselor) in that last week, but it is only fair to the kids as you said. Other schools in our area also do the early choosing, after 3rd quarter senior year, but why?

  9. At my school, we only went by GPA and that was decided after finals. Seniors took finals early, though, and had the last few days off, giving everyone time to figure out which person (or people) were vals or salus and time to get their speeches ready. One of our salus, though, plagiarized her speech. There was a “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” poster in our English classroom and she spoke it word for word…saying that she had come up with it. I mean, c’mon, most of us had stared at that thing for three or four years! We knew it wasn’t real. (Of course, everyone also knew that she cheated off one of the other salus the entire four years we were in school…and dumped him right after graduation, which explains a LOT.) Grrrr… On the bright side, it was my first public poetry reading, since I included one of my (now-I-realize-it-was-not-great-but-okay-for-high-school) poems in my speech, which paved the way for me being comfy doing poetry readings in college, so I guess something good came out of it.

  10. At my school, we only went by GPA and that was decided after finals. Seniors took finals early, though, and had the last few days off, giving everyone time to figure out which person (or people) were vals or salus and time to get their speeches ready. One of our salus, though, plagiarized her speech. There was a “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” poster in our English classroom and she spoke it word for word…saying that she had come up with it. I mean, c’mon, most of us had stared at that thing for three or four years! We knew it wasn’t real. (Of course, everyone also knew that she cheated off one of the other salus the entire four years we were in school…and dumped him right after graduation, which explains a LOT.) Grrrr… On the bright side, it was my first public poetry reading, since I included one of my (now-I-realize-it-was-not-great-but-okay-for-high-school) poems in my speech, which paved the way for me being comfy doing poetry readings in college, so I guess something good came out of it.

  11. My own high school did it much like Thumper said above. The valedictorian didn’t make a speech, though, they had try-outs about 3 weeks before graduation and whoever gave the best speech was chosen to speak. I think it’s the same where I teach.

  12. My own high school did it much like Thumper said above. The valedictorian didn’t make a speech, though, they had try-outs about 3 weeks before graduation and whoever gave the best speech was chosen to speak. I think it’s the same where I teach.

  13. …and the thing that irks me the most about graduations and Valedictorians and things of the like is this: Their speeches. Their speeches usually contain inside jokes that no one gets, funny anecdotes from THEIR experience, not the class as a whole. The Valedictorian should be the person who writes the best speech with the best advice for their classmates-the person who’s seen more than just keggers on the weekends and may not have enough money, might not have been in every sport listed, and isn’t in the “Top 10” of the who’s who.

  14. …and the thing that irks me the most about graduations and Valedictorians and things of the like is this: Their speeches. Their speeches usually contain inside jokes that no one gets, funny anecdotes from THEIR experience, not the class as a whole. The Valedictorian should be the person who writes the best speech with the best advice for their classmates-the person who’s seen more than just keggers on the weekends and may not have enough money, might not have been in every sport listed, and isn’t in the “Top 10” of the who’s who.

  15. Not to change the topic, but why is education a horse-race? How can averages be any real measurement of or comparison between two students, when they are taking different courses from different teachers at (probably) different levels of difficulty?

    I have always been at schools with valedictorians chosen after semester 7 and I HATE it. The only thing worse would be if we had chosen them after 8 semesters because then the two or three kids would be driven batty for their entire HS careers rather than for most of it. The whole process needs a revisit. The numbers are based on the shifting whims of teachers who aren’t consistent (nor should they be – this is education, not an assembly line!)

    Oooooh, now you’ve done it. You got me going!

    http://mathcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/05/of-valedictorians-and-significant.html

  16. Not to change the topic, but why is education a horse-race? How can averages be any real measurement of or comparison between two students, when they are taking different courses from different teachers at (probably) different levels of difficulty?

    I have always been at schools with valedictorians chosen after semester 7 and I HATE it. The only thing worse would be if we had chosen them after 8 semesters because then the two or three kids would be driven batty for their entire HS careers rather than for most of it. The whole process needs a revisit. The numbers are based on the shifting whims of teachers who aren’t consistent (nor should they be – this is education, not an assembly line!)

    Oooooh, now you’ve done it. You got me going!

    http://mathcurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/05/of-valedictorians-and-significant.html

  17. We have a Top Ten and not specific people, so I can’t speak to that. However, I do know that any change in the student’s senior schedule must be sent to the university at which he/she has been accepted–as well as an official transcript of the senior second semester grades. Some colleges (University of Washington for one) have actually pulled back acceptance on a couple of slacker kids. More colleges should do so!

  18. We have a Top Ten and not specific people, so I can’t speak to that. However, I do know that any change in the student’s senior schedule must be sent to the university at which he/she has been accepted–as well as an official transcript of the senior second semester grades. Some colleges (University of Washington for one) have actually pulled back acceptance on a couple of slacker kids. More colleges should do so!

  19. My husband was the salutatorian of our class and I was friends with the valedictorian and the #3 and #4 students. (The top four in a class get an award at graduation.) Even in 1994 our school figured out the valedictorian at nearly the last minute. From what my husband has told me their positions changed frequently throughout the second semester and it was really up for grabs until the last minute.

    The bummer for my husband is that UVM (most expensive state school in the country) gives a full ride to all Vermont valedictorians. Our #1 did not go to UVM, but my husband did.

  20. My husband was the salutatorian of our class and I was friends with the valedictorian and the #3 and #4 students. (The top four in a class get an award at graduation.) Even in 1994 our school figured out the valedictorian at nearly the last minute. From what my husband has told me their positions changed frequently throughout the second semester and it was really up for grabs until the last minute.

    The bummer for my husband is that UVM (most expensive state school in the country) gives a full ride to all Vermont valedictorians. Our #1 did not go to UVM, but my husband did.

  21. Our senior grades are due on Friday so that the decision can be made on Tuesday. Our seniors do not go on a trip, so their last full day is Monday, June 1. Graduation is on Friday, June 5. So we wait until the last minute in Central PA, too.

    I agree about choosing so far in advance, though. It would lead to major slackitude and I would feel very bad for the REAL Valedictorian.

  22. Our senior grades are due on Friday so that the decision can be made on Tuesday. Our seniors do not go on a trip, so their last full day is Monday, June 1. Graduation is on Friday, June 5. So we wait until the last minute in Central PA, too.

    I agree about choosing so far in advance, though. It would lead to major slackitude and I would feel very bad for the REAL Valedictorian.

  23. I don’t think they selected the valedictorian that early in the year when I was in school. Of course, I have no memory of who ours was either.

  24. I don’t think they selected the valedictorian that early in the year when I was in school. Of course, I have no memory of who ours was either.

  25. When I was in high school, the Valedictorian was actually decided right through the final semester. In fact, the number one and number two students were close enough that they were co-valedictorians. I’ll never forget hearing one of the two complain about her Physical Education grade of B hurting her chances.

  26. When I was in high school, the Valedictorian was actually decided right through the final semester. In fact, the number one and number two students were close enough that they were co-valedictorians. I’ll never forget hearing one of the two complain about her Physical Education grade of B hurting her chances.

  27. Is this one of those things that varies from place to place? I know when I graduated HS we didn’t know who #1 and #2 were until two days before graduation–as seniors our exams were given a week before the rest of the school, and they took the time to figure it out.

    It’s a shame that schools aren’t doing that now, or all over. Sheesh, my cousin and someone else were tied for Valedictorian when she graduated, so they dug into 8th grade records. I thought that was overkill, but whatever works, I guess…

  28. Is this one of those things that varies from place to place? I know when I graduated HS we didn’t know who #1 and #2 were until two days before graduation–as seniors our exams were given a week before the rest of the school, and they took the time to figure it out.

    It’s a shame that schools aren’t doing that now, or all over. Sheesh, my cousin and someone else were tied for Valedictorian when she graduated, so they dug into 8th grade records. I thought that was overkill, but whatever works, I guess…

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