Print Naming valedictorian is a tradition schools shouldn’t eliminate
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Friday, 25 May 2012 00:00

The day every student waits for is here for Mingus Union High School seniors.

They’ve worked hard for 13 years to walk across the stage and receive their high school diploma.

Traditionally, one student in particular is rightfully honored for his or her effort while in high school.

Many high schools name a valedictorian, the student who came out on top with regard to grade point average.

Unfortunately, some schools in Arizona have done away with the practice of naming a valedictorian, including Camp Verde High School just down the road.

Instead, schools are electing to honor the top 1 percent of the graduating class, and in Camp Verde the top 10 percent will be honored.

Mingus Union High School still honors the tradition by naming Colin Garttmeier as the 2012 valedictorian.Mingus still honors the tradition naming Colin Garttmeier as the 2012 valedictorian.

Supporters of axing the valedictorian say recognizing a percentage of students rather than one or two allows more students to be honored. Awarding more students is fine. Go ahead and recognize the top 1 percent or 10 percent. Make them feel good about their achievement, but don’t take away the valedictorian’s rightful title.

Instead, name a valedictorian and a top percentage.

Being named valedictorian is a great honor and students pore over their books for the title. Believe me, I know.

I was one of nine girls named valedictorian at my own high school.

Normally, my high school named the top 10 in order starting with the valedictorian, but in my case, nine of us competed earning GPAs above 4.0 by taking every Advanced Placement class we could.

From freshman year until the end of senior year, we all knew who was a contender based on who hung in there for Chemistry II, Calculus, Advanced Biology and AP English. The competition was healthy and pushed me to study on nights when I would have rather been with friends or watched television.

If I would have known all I had to do to be honored was make the top 10 percent, I wouldn’t have had the same motivation to take the tough classes and always get an A. The top 10 percent at my high school would have consisted of 18 students.

Not only does being named valedictorian feel good, but it looks nice listed under accomplishments on college and scholarship applications.

If schools want to honor more students for their academic achievement, that’s fine. Add them to the list of honorees, but encourage a little healthy competition to motivate those students in that top group to keep working hard even when they’re already one of 10, 15 or 20 students in the top percentile.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor