Point counterpoint: removal of valedictorian will benefit all

A student steps up to the podium.

They have excelled in a multitude of advanced placement and dual enrollment classes, and have just been accepted into an Ivy League school. A stereotypical “rah rah make the world a better place” speech is delivered and then the valedictorian steps down.

And that was it.

That speech, that moment, was what they had worked for their entire high school career. It was what they missed elective classes for. What they skipped football games and homecoming for.

In a two minute time span it was over, and with it went four years of high school experiences.

The title of valedictorian is something all honors students strive for. It is a prestigious distinction, something to be celebrated. But it is not worth missing out on your high school career for. This is why the Chandler School District’s decision to eliminate the position of valedictorian after this graduating class is a smart one.  

Valedictory honors are determined by grade point average. By taking extra weighted classes, students can raise their GPA beyond the average 4.0 cutoff. Samantha Lindsay, a writer for the Prep Scholar organization, explains that, “Weighted GPAs are typically measured on a 5-point scale, with a 5.0 being equivalent to an A in an Honors or AP class.”

Because of this, students seeking the title of valedictorian will often replace their electives with heavily-weighted AP and honors classes. In doing so, they miss out on an introduction to the arts, athletics, and technological improvements. Elective classes present a multitude of opportunities to discover things you are passionate about outside of traditional core classes. Students seeking the valedictorian title are robbed of these opportunities when they replace their elective classes with heavily-weighted honors courses.

Another downfall of the title of valedictorian? The unhealthy mindsets and competition that come along with. Students contending for these academic titles often develop grudges. Grudges between students that have been friends since kindergarten. Grudges over who got the highest score on that last English quiz.

Let that sink in for a second.

Nevertheless, the position of valedictorian is an incredible honor. It is understood that the elimination of the title will also eliminate some of the recognition for academically exceeding scholars. And yet, alongside the esteem of the title comes missed opportunities and competitive mindsets that affect students for the rest of their lives.

High school is the place to discover who you are as an individual by pursuing new classes and ideas. These four years are the occasion to embarrass yourself in that drama class and discover that you love graphic design or dance, or cooking, or journalism, or any of the other forty-seven electives that PHS offers. The CUSD decision to eradicate the title of valedictorian will additionally eradicate the missed opportunities that come with it.