The Wake County school board recognized Tuesday the 29 high school valedictorians from the Class of 2016 even as the district may do away with that recognition in the next few years.
Last week, the school board’s policy committee backed a policy change that would end the use of valedictorians and salutatorians after the Class of 2018 in favor of the system used in colleges to recognize top students. If approved by the full board, high schools would switch to recognizing students with titles such as summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude based on their grades.
Supporters of the change say it would end the “unhealthy” competition that exists among some students to be named valedictorian. Supporters also say switching to the Latin honors system will result in more students being recognized at each school.
But critics of the change say it would devalue the hard work that students spend to earn the top grade-point average at their school.
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In the meantime, the board spent part of Tuesday’s meeting publicly honoring this year’s valedictorians.
The valedictorians, which include co-valedictorians at one school, are:
▪ Apex High School’s Andrea Bowdon, who will attend Arizona State University or N.C. State University and study engineering;
▪ Athens Drive High School’s Jena Nicole Keesee, who will attend N.C. State and study computer science;
▪ Broughton High School’s Cameron Champion, a Morehead-Cain scholar who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study environmental science;
▪ Cary High School’s William Atkinson, who will attend Duke University and study English;
▪ East Wake School of Health Sciences’ Logan Karl Jackson, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study political science;
▪ East Wake School of Arts Education and Global Studies’ Emily Pitt Whitfield, who will attend N.C. State and study animal science;
▪ East Wake Engineering Systems’ Amarachi Rita Achonu, who will attend Duke and study biomedical engineering;
▪ East Wake Integrated Technology’s Taylor Marie Barr, who will attend Wingate University and study political science and pre-law;
▪ Enloe High School’s William Song, who will attend Harvard University and study economics and sociology;
▪ Fuquay-Varina High School’s Anna Kristine Bennett, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania and study nursing;
▪ Garner High School’s Sarah Dancausse, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study biology or human services;
▪ Green Hope High School’s Rebecca Li, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study business;
▪ Heritage High School’s Jason Lee, who will attend Duke and study chemistry and pre-med;
▪ Holly Springs High School’s Malynn Eleanor Clark, who will attend the University of Mississippi and study mechanical engineering;
▪ Knightdale High School’s Jordan Nichols, who will attend N.C. State and study mechanical engineering;
▪ Leesville Road High School’s Heather Thompson Crew, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study economics along with peace, war and defense. She and Bennett, the Fuquay-Varina High valedictorian, are cousins;
▪ Millbrook High School’s Ana Iglesias, who will attend N.C. State and study engineering;
▪ Middle Creek High School’s Hannah Levy, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study mathematics;
▪ Panther Creek High School’s Soomin Myoung, who will attend Duke and study biomedical engineering;
▪ Mary Phillips High School’s Keyoni Janecia Bowling, who will attend Wake Technical Community College and study nursing;
▪ Sanderson High School’s Vince Ellington Friedman, a Morehead-Cain scholar who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study chemistry for pre-med;
▪ Southeast Raleigh High School’s Shannon Aleese McLeod, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and plans to become a nurse anesthetist;
▪ Wake Forest High School’s Kayla Nicole Holder, who will attend N.C. State and study human biology;
▪ Wakefield High School’s Meghan Elaine Dempsey, who will attend Appalachian State University and study dietetics;
▪ Wake Early College of Health and Sciences’ Michael Ray Nock, who will attend Harvard and study neurobiology;
▪ Wake STEM Early College High School’s Melody Armistead, who will attend the University of South Carolina and study biology;
▪ Wake STEM Early College High School’s Richard Marshall, who will attend N.C. State and study computer science;
▪ Wake Young Men Leadership Academy’s Seth Weber McGann, who will attend Duke and study theological studies;
▪ Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy’s Emma Rose Goodwin, who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill and study biology pre-med.
East Wake High School was officially consolidated this school year from four small schools to one. But for one last time, a valedictorian is being named for each of the small schools.
The only schools not on the list are Rolesville High School and the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy, which both won’t name valedictorians, and Apex-Friendship High. That school doesn’t yet have a senior class, but has already told students it won’t name a valedictorian in the future.