One of my granddaughters is graduating from high school this year. She is an honor student with a 3.9 grade average and has received a Dean’s scholarship to college. Upon attending her honors award program I was somewhat shocked to learn that her school would have 86 Valedictorians in the graduating class. It seems that in California’s High Schools Valedictorians are designated as any student with a grade average between 3.0-4.0, with most of our state’s high schools having 80+ Valedictorians in their graduating classes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is fine to honor students who have maintained a 3.0-4.0 throughout their high school years, and to distinguish them with the wearing of white robes during the graduation ceremony. But call me old-fashioned if you will, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around 86 Valedictorians in each graduating class.

When I was going to school (admittedly a long time ago) there was one, maybe two Valedictorians at most in our graduating classes. These were extraordinary students who had excelled in every aspect of their education, and most importantly academically with a 4.5 – 5.0+ grade average. To be a Valedictorian was the highest scholastic honor one could receive, and those who did so were an exceptional group.

As I look at our society today I am concerned. It seems to me that achieving excellence is becoming a thing of the past, and that we are not preparing our young people for the ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses that they will eventually face in real life. In our effort to give people their rights, build their self-esteem,  and treat everyone equal, we have lowered the bar and  gone overboard … as usual. 

Webster’ defines a Valedictorian as: a student ranking highest academically in a graduating class.

Eighty-six Valedictorians …. REALLY????? Maybe this is something that our educators might want to take another look at.

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