At one point in time, having a valedictorian served a purpose. It gave well-deserved recognition to students who made every effort to succeed. In this day and age, however, having a valedictorian is unnecessary and illogical.
Valedictorians used to have a significantly higher GPA than other students. Now, most schools have a large group of students who visibly exert themselves academically. To only recognize one of those students as the best, based on numbers alone, is completely impractical. It turns their education into a competition where the odds of winning are slight.
In addition, when students focus all of their energy into getting the best GPA, they miss out on much of high school. Although academics are the priority, students should also take advantage of the social, athletic and/or artistic opportunities offered. That is difficult to do when all of their energy is applied to their GPA.
Hurricane High School guidance counselor Cheryl Graham agrees that having a valedictorian distracts from the overall experience of high school. "High school isn't just about numbers; it's about preparing students for life," she said.
When students become obsessed with their GPA and their mental fitness, they lose sight of the importance of their emotional, spiritual or physical health.
If that isn't enough to convince schools to do away with valedictorians, consider this: having a high school valedictorian removes the purpose of hardworking middle school students. People who take high school courses in middle school are actually at a disadvantage as far as being the valedictorian goes.
How is that possible? Mathematically speaking, if one straight-A student has more non-weighted classes than another straight-A student, then he or she will have the lower GPA. The classes that are offered to middle school students are not weighted, so when they take high school courses early, they are actually being set back in the competition. Essentially, schools that encourage students to spend their high school experience striving to be the Best in Class are in turn encouraging middle school students to wait until high school to challenge themselves.
Since middle school students should try to reach their full potential and not wait for high school to challenge them, it is simply unfair and nonsensical to recognize a single valedictorian. Instead, schools should consider an alternative to having a valedictorian, such as acknowledging the top 10 percent of class by putting an asterisk next to their names in the graduation bulletin.
If schools encouraged students to be well-rounded people rather than the valedictorian, every student who tries their best can succeed. Every student can win.