High school is a minefield of chaos, making it a difficult path to cross. Those who do successfully navigate it experience sleepless nights full of homework, nights spent at home instead of with friends, and, of course, all of the stress that comes suit. Two specific students accept these challenges and put in all the work necessary to get the highest grade point average. These fearless pioneers must be rewarded; valedictorians and salutatorians deserve to be recognized at graduation.
These students expend themselves night and day to complete their work and assignments, all while keeping the highest grade point averages in the class. That is a pretty amazing feat that very few can say they have accomplished. Yet, this year, WHS has chosen not to recognize the valedictorian and salutatorian in favor of a class speaker. Now, students can write a speech and apply to be salutatorian—the welcome speaker—and the valedictorian—the send off speaker. The egos of other students are saved by this recent change. Some people in the school feel as though all other students will be hurt when their names are not called to give speeches. Many students, however, understand the immense amount of work and effort that comes with having the highest grade point average and accept that they have not met those standards. Few to no students have complained about their lack of recognition because they know they do not deserve it. There has not been a huge push for this change, so why is it necessary? In a survey sent out to students by The Rebellion, 92.5 percent of students and 77.1 percent of faculty felt that WHS should name a valedictorian and salutatorian.
“I feel that it is important to recognize people for their hard work and give them the opportunity to both gain public speaking experience and maintain the traditional high school graduation procedure,” an anonymous WHS student said. “Allowing other people to give speeches is robbing intellectuals of the opportunity to showcase their hard work.”
The most important thing to note is the difference between academic honors and athletic honors. Walpole athletes are praised throughout town for their accomplishments, with their names on newspapers and hung up in school hallways, while the potential valedictorian remains nameless. Intellects put in the same, if not more, time and effort to be successful, yet their success goes unnoticed and unmentioned, overshadowed by the athletes.
“Athletes have trophies and banners to acknowledge and celebrate their athletic accomplishments and these are openly displayed in the school for all to see. Academic achievers should also be openly acknowledged and celebrated,” an anonymous WHS faculty member said. “Academics is their sport. If you take the academic recognition away, you should take down all the trophies and banners. Recognizing success is not discouraging, but a motivating force.”
Eradicating the valedictorian and salutatorian titles may boost self-esteem, but it comes at the expense of their hard work. Naming the valedictorian and salutatorian does not minimize the achievement of other students, but rather recognizes high achieving students. If one is willing to put in the work to achieve such high grades, then they should be receiving recognition. Competition is human nature, and to abolish the opportunity to use that instinct deters people from putting in effort. All students are not equal, so they should be stopped being treated as such.