Regarding the May 18 article “Wake board votes to drop naming valedictorians”: I was dismayed to read the proposed edict on dropping academic designations after 2018. I quote from the article, “School board members said the change will allow students to take more of the courses they’d like rather than just the ones that will boost their GPA and class rank.”
As a long-time educator in public schools in North Carolina, I say there will always be a small percentage of students who take (the old-fashioned term) “crip” courses in order to avoid the tougher academic ones. This is not always because of one’s academic standing but rather because of a desire to spend less time studying.
A serious-minded student who is gifted academically will naturally select challenging courses in his field of interest, and of that group several will end up for consideration as valedictorian or salutatorian. Yes, there may be a miniscule difference in GPA, but how does that compare with other competitive events in life? Does the Olympian not aim for the gold? Does the horse trainer not hope for the roses at the Kentucky Derby? Would you have all fields of competition “dumb-down” the high standards and not be recognized?
As a child, I worked hard to memorize Bible verses and prayers in order to get a sticker on my personal ribbon from the elementary school teacher. Some had more stickers than I, but to this day, I’m proud that I know them by heart. I didn’t get the most, because someone was smarter than I, and it’s a good lesson to learn that being the best belongs to one person, and that does not diminish my self-esteem.
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With a Latin honors program in high schools, there will be many who will place in the three categories, and of the summa cum laude minority, there will still be one and two who have the highest GPAs. Those two people worked hard, harder than the others, and took rigorous courses, so why not honor them? It’s possible to use both systems, if they feel determined to award more than two students.
Our education is at low ebb already because those in authority have chosen to lower standards for many years, trying to make everybody a winner. “Leave No Child Behind” did not succeed; we are in worse shape now. I implore decision-makers to re-examine their opinions, and let’s give our children the recognition they deserve.
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.