Saturday, November 28, 2015 • 07:30

The Jaguars' Spot

February 26, 2014
val·e·dic·to·ri·an (n.) a student, typically having the highest academic achievements of the class, who delivers the valedictory speech at a graduation ceremony.

The whole fairy tale of valedictorians captured my interest as a young girl. I watched Lizzie McGuire, Jessica Stanley, and Gabriella Montez give their beautiful speeches and couldn't wait for my high school graduation to be sent off with words of wisdom from a fellow classmate.

However, as my years at high school came to show, the selections of the top students to fight for valedictorian weren't very…well rounded. These students had the grades, immaculate representations that most of their high school days were spent bent over a textbook or pestering teachers for study sessions; but what good is a straight A track record and nothing else?

I have a friend who works on the admissions committee for Harvard and he has told me time and time again how his desk is stacked with applications from brilliant individuals that he has to turn away because they are just their GPA.

So in the closing months of my high school career I can't help but overhear the murmur of gossip amongst my peers of who will give our valedictorian speech.

I know the candidates. I've had classes with them. I'm in service clubs with them but still they aren't really much other than maybe one sport and their GPA. It's not that I wouldn't want these kids giving the class of 2014 words of wisdom as we depart our separate ways, it's just I'm not sure what words of wisdom they have.

For this reason, I want to bring a new "trend" to light.

Many schools are switching to a "Valedictory Address Selection Process." A committee of about ten screeners (usually a Principal, additional administrator, two counselors, and three to five teachers) view applications from students interested in giving the valedictorian speech.

These students must have a cumulative weighted GPA of 3.75 or higher; allow all academic, attendance, and disciplinary records to be reviewed by the committee (their disciplinary record being free of major transgressions, including those involving academic dishonesty); have a good attendance record, and a record of volunteer service.

Those fitting the requirements then fill out a typed application form including an essay of why they should be considered and two teacher letters of recommendation. Once this is completed they prepare a three-minute graduation speech that they would plan on presenting on the day of graduation and thus present it to the committee who then makes their selection.

It sounds like some work but it would really give a chance to students with words of wisdom and not a 4.6 GPA. Besides our school district has always been pretty trendy with curriculum such as the latest technology, a stellar bilingual program, and flipped classrooms; so maybe this is the next step.

What say you, Jags? What words of wisdom might you have to offer?

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