The highest honor in high school education is changing in America. The term "valedictorian" has lost its singular meaning in top suburban schools across the country.
According to the New York Times, ten students at Lyons High School in Colorado shared the top ranking as "co-valedictorians" this year.
This phenomenon is growing, since principals across the country say that recognizing multiple valedictorians "reduces pressure and competition among students," especially when those at the top are separated by only a fraction of a percentage point.
But Chris Healy, an associate professor at Furman University, says he thinks celebrating several students as "the best" is a bad idea.
“It’s honor inflation,” said Healy, adding that giving the title to an entire group could leave them ill prepared for competition in college and beyond. “In the real world, you do get ranked.”
School officials say that pressures in high school to get higher grades for college admissions are behind the trend of multiple valedictorians, since students take more weighted advanced placement courses, boosting their GPA.
A BigThink article compares the new tradition to a wife having "co-husbands" at her wedding because she can't make up her mind. While this example may be a bit of a stretch, Harvard's Dean of Admissions William R. Fitzsimmons says seeing groups of students praised with the top honor -- even homeschool students ranked No. 1 out of one -- has rendered the distinction meaningless.
However, a pair of high school graduates in Canada -- co-valedictorians -- say they were happy to share the honor, according to the Telegraph-Journal.
"We're such good friends that if one of us had gotten it and not the other, one of us would have ended up sad," said Lauren Stephenson, one of the graduates in the International Baccalaureate program at Saint John High School.
What do you think of this trend? Let us know in the comments.
Copyright (c) 2009 HGTV and Scripps Howard News Service
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