No more valedictorian

WCPSS implements a Latin honors system as poor replacement

The class of 2018, this year’s juniors, will be the last class to have recognized valedictorians and salutatorians, the students with the top two highest GPAs.
The Wake County School Board voted to do away this these distinctions in spring of 2016, citing the supposed increased competition these titles place on students academically as well as the selection of courses for GPA purposes rather than a student’s interests or future career plans.
Instead, Wake County schools will honor students using a Latin honors system. Those with a weighted GPA of 4.25 or higher will be designated summa cum laude, students with a weighted GPA between 4.0 and 4.249 will receive the magna cum laude distinction and students with a weighted GPA between 3.75 and 3.99 will be cum laude.
Stripping the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian from the class of 2019 and beyond ceases to make sense if high school intends to prepare students for the real world. In the real world, while there are many high achievers, there is only one person on top in any given venture.
However, competition to become number one in any field or group drives innovation and excellence.
Those in favor of taking away the valedictorian and salutatorian argue that it puts unnecessary pressure on students.
In reality though, the title of valedictorian or salutatorian is not what places pressure on students. The pressure comes from the increasingly difficult college admissions criteria and competition from students from schools all across the nation for top college spots.
Students do not set out to become valedictorian for the title or the graduation speech. The number one status rightfully sets them apart from many other students and ensures that, academically speaking, they have a higher chance of admission at prestigious universities.
Wake County has stated they will continue to rank students on transcripts after 2018, so the competition will be just as intense for students seeking the top rank, even if they are not formally recognized at graduation.
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, many students work hard for the sake of knowing their own accomplishments, not just for a title that tells other students what they already know. These students will continue to put pressure on themselves and challenge themselves at the highest level, and it is surprising a school board would not advocate for and celebrate this.
Overall, taking these designations away does nothing but rob a integral reward away from those who deserve it.