August 2010 Your Turn

How do you solve the valedictorian(s) problem? Here’s a novel way: Just recognize the academic “Top 10.”

“Our school district has named and recognized at graduation the ‘Top 10’ students,” said Minnesota Superintendent Scott R. Staska, in response to our June question: “What’s your honors system?”

“Typically, they are recognized in alphabetical order rather than in numerical ranking,” Staska continued. “The Top 10 move to seats of honor in front of the class and receive a medal and ribbon during the graduation ceremony. It is still very competitive, but it has taken some of the pressure off naming the top individual.”

However, most of you who responded have gone the multiple valedictorian route, though sometimes with a twist.

“We also have honorifics such as summa cum laude, based on the number of academic electives the student takes in addition to the basic curriculum, and of course achieving high grades in all courses,” said an Idaho board member whose district has multiple valedictorians. “It was somewhat controversial when we went to this system because we also have released time (no credit) for religious courses [on the Mormon Church and other Protestant denominations], and now students have to choose whether they will go released time and forgo the honors programs. Of course, they can do this before and after school hours at the Mormon seminary or other location.” 

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