The tide has been going out for some time on the concept of a valedictorian and salutatorian at high school commencement exercises in Minnesota. Better to honor all academic achievers, rather than crown the top two, the philosophy goes.
A Chisholm student has launched a social media campaign in her school district to bring the honor back.
“Being recognized by the community is something unspeakable,” senior Katelyn Landacre told the school board this week, Hibbing Daily Tribune reports. “Many athletes will get to see that, but it’s a shame that the academic people will no longer feel that joy.”
“The esteemed titles pushed students to work their hardest to be recognized academically, but the new system, on stage at least, shows students with a 4.15 GPA that they are no different than those with a 3.667 GPA,” she said.
Landacre, and some who signed the petition, supported awarding the valedictorian the equivalent to a medal, as a top athlete would receive. This is in contrast to the current system, which they likened to a sport in which all athletes receive a participation award.
Without that motivation, she said students may turn “lazy” as soon as they realize those who do not work as diligently stand to reap the same benefits.
Being CHS is a smaller school, Landacre said it isn’t likely to face the dilemma of schools who dropped the honors due to turning out large numbers of valedictorians and salutatorians. She also offered some possible remedies in case of a tie.
“Chisholm is not a school that has hundreds of graduates each year, but it does yield one valedictorian and salutatorian, and we should honor that once again,” she concluded.
The district replaced the valedictorian/salutatorian honors more than a year ago. Now, colored cords identify students with a grade point average of 3.667 or above.
In her online petition, Landacre says recognizing the top two students doesn’t take anything away from other academic achievers any more than an Olympic medal minimizes other participants.
“Instead, it is viewed as rewarding the efforts of the winning athlete and providing incentive the athletes in years to come. This mindset should not just be present in athletics, but in academics as well,” she writes.
The school committee took no action on Landacre’s suggestion.