Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Valedictorian Rant

Val·e·dic·to·ri·an (valəˌdikˈtôrēən): A student, typically having the highest academic achievements of the class, who delivers the valedictory (farewell address) at a graduation ceremony. 
Sa·lu·ta·to·ri·an (səˌlo͞otəˈtôrēən): The student who ranks second highest in a graduating class and delivers the salutatory (opening or welcoming) address. 

Something’s just not right. According to tradition (not to mention the definition), there should be one and only one valedictorian in each graduating class – high school or college.
But several years ago, I noticed high schools having more than a single valedictorian – a phenomenon, I suppose, of everybody trying to be politically correct and not damage the psyche of kids who just didn’t measure up to the #1 and were relegated to salutatorian status or lower.
It just drives me crazy every year when schools honor more than one student as valedictorian. According to the morning newspaper, this year, Campbell High School (Maui) will have nine (9) valedictorians, and Kaiser High School (Oahu) will have eight (8).
Now where’s the honor in that? To me, it’s a cop-out by those who would select the valedictorian. It would seem they just don’t want to make a tough decision. Okay, so nine kids have a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, and all are outstanding in several extra-curricular activities. Surely one of them must surpass the others by at least a smidgen.
Ties don’t mean a thing – whether they be in sports, academics, school career, or life. Having multiple valedictorians delivers a single message: Nobody was good enough to be #1.

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