The race for valedictorian will end, starting with the Boulder Valley School District’s class of 2010.
A district committee studying the issue agreed to mirror colleges by recognizing groups of high-achieving seniors with summa, magna and cum laude honors instead of crowning a single valedictorian. The change is the result of a previous Boulder Valley decision to no longer calculate class rank.
Of course this should be no surprise coming from Boulder, but I still think most people miss this very basic point. If people don’t need to strive to be the best, they won’t. All this “making people feel good about themselves” stuff doesn’t do any good in the real world if they’ve never learned to “do your best” in school. A person who is valedictorian is someone who has spent hours making sure that their homework is perfect, their studying habit are sound, their test taking is excellent, and even their attendance is exemplary. Basically, being valedictorian is the reward for excellence in academics. But now that another incentive to work hard academically has been removed, you’ll see more people not work as hard.
Will the kid who’s getting A’s, but could still do more work put in those hours? Doubtful. Will a kid study extra for a test if he/she knows that there is no difference between a 100% and 93%? Not likely. Will there be those kids who have to study or they’ll go crazy? Sure, but that won’t be the norm and for the other kids who had a reason to work hard…well that reason’s gone.
Think about it. How many times have we heard that athletes get rewarded and acknowledged but not people who excel in academics. In fact, one of the reasons a Nobel Prize winning professor left the University of Colorado is because he believed there was not enough emphasis on academics. And yet, when we have ways of acknowledging excellence in academics, we just trash it and do away with it.
I was never close to being valedictorian, but I respected ours greatly and looked up to them. They were role models. It’s a shame that the Boulder Valley School District has taken that away from future students.