Valedictorian proves not easy accomplishment


Walking through the halls of the school, one might notice one wall full of faces of students, some of which were pictured as far back as the first few years of the school being open.

They are the faces of the valedictorians and salutatorians, also known as the top couple students in their graduating classes.

Earning this position is not an easy task, as proven by one of last year’s co-valedictorians, Caitlyn Miller.

“I always completed every assignment to the best of my ability and took my time to make sure everything looked good,” said Caitlyn, “This did cost me a lot of sleep in high school, but I felt that every assignment was a reflection of my hard work and character.”

By having high standards for herself, Caitlyn was able to achieve her goals by making sure that she was proud of all of her work.

“One of my key values is responsibility, so most of what I did that helped me be at the top of my class were things that I felt that I needed to do anyway,” said Caitlyn.

She also wanted to make sure there was a balance between working toward valedictorian and still taking classes that she wanted to take.

“I took a total of 11 AP classes in high school, but I never added a class to my schedule just because it was AP,” said Caitlyn, “I genuinely wanted to take all of those classes.”

Principal Brandon Bitting, wanted to make sure students are taking classes for the right reasons as well.

“I really don’t want the reason why someone takes a class is for the grade bump,” said Mr. Bitting, “What we really want is for them to take that class because that’s meaningful for their future endeavors.”

This could be a part of why the high school has been going through a change from classes being labeled as honors with a grade boost to now STEM classes without a grade boost.

“When I look at the title of STEM classes, for me it’s about students placing themselves in the right class for what it is they want to go into,” said Mr. Bitting.

So unlike the popular belief that the replacement of honors classes was to remove grade boosts, the more accurate reason was to motivate students to take classes for their own self achievement.

“Those STEM science classes are going to be more geared toward those students going into those fields which hopefully is going to expose them to the techniques that are needed for that field as well as career opportunities,” said Mr. Bitting.

But with this comes the question of whether the school will continue to have a valedictorian or not. If STEM classes are meant to have students take classes because they genuinely like that class, then wouldn’t it make sense to take away alternative motivations such as valedictorian?

“If you look around the state that [the removal of the valedictorian title] has been kind of a topic of conversation over the last few years,” said Mr. Bitting. “There isn’t anything on the immediate future of saying that we’re not going to have a valedictorian.”

How would the valedictorian title being taken away affect students?

“I know that if they wouldn’t have recognized anyone as valedictorian or salutatorian at my graduation, I would have been crushed because I was working towards that honor for most of my high school career,” said Caitlyn.

So how could the school system take away the title if desired without hurting the students that have been working toward this achievement?

“I think that they should set in place a plan to remove the honors several years in the future so that students who are already motivated and working toward this goal can see their achievement,” said Caitlyn.