High Schools Beginning To Award Valedictorian Title To Multiple Students

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As high school graduation season rolls on, more and more high schools are deciding to recognize multiple valedictorians instead of honoring just one elite student.

When students graduate from South Medford High in Oregon next weekend, all of the school's 21 valedictorians can be involved in the ceremony if they so choose. At Enterprise High in Alabama, the 34 valedictorians drew names from a hat to determine who would get a chance to speak at commencement.

Although this trend might seem like a good thing, it is making college administrators increasingly wary about applicants who say they are class valedictorian, NBC News reported.

“Yes, it has definitely watered things down a little bit,” said Jim Rawlins, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “Definitely, the more ultra-selective universities have to be more critical and skeptical of class ranks than before.”

He added: “The question is: Where do you cross the line? If a school has those extremely high-end numbers [of valedictorians], then I would quickly assume that grading isn't very rigorous at all at that school. But I'm not sure I could say what number that needs to drop to for things to not seem out of whack to me again. Is five the limit? Three? Eight? I'm not sure. But my gut instinct as an admission director is that I'd start to wonder a bit even at four.”

South Medford principal, Kevin Campbell, defended the school’s practice of allowing seniors who have amassed 4.0 grade point averages to claim the title of valedictorian.

“When I’m on the stage at graduation watching each valedictorian come up and get a spot, they’re having a blast," Campbell said. "I never detect any feeling of, ‘Oh my gosh this has gotten too big to be anything.’ They’re so amped to be able to say their part [as valedictorian].”

One of this year’s 21 valedictorians, Zach Schneider, is also fine with system.

"I don't feel any different being one of 21 versus if I was one of three because I know what I have accomplished and I know what others have accomplished," Schneider said. "We've all accomplished different things."

Sources: NBC News, Medford Mail Tribune