I was at a recent high school graduation, and I noticed there were eight valedictorians and no salutatorians. This job has required me to be at a lot of high school graduations over the years, and this is the first one I can remember where you didn’t have a speech from both a valedictorian and a salutatorian.

Here, each of the eight valedictorians got to deliver a couple of minutes of whatever “cool quote” they could find before they were moved out of the way for the next one.

I was confused by this. Did all eight students have the exact same grade at the end of the year? Was the ninth-place person way below what is required of the salutatorian? Or were there 10 salutatorians to go with the eight valedictorians and you have to draw the line somewhere?

I’ll admit this quickly slipped my mind, but it was brought back when I saw a news story that some schools are doing away with the valedictorian/salutatorian thing completely. According to the story, there are two reasons for this.

One is some students are taking easier classes so they can “game the system” and graduate at the top, impressing hard-to-impress colleges. The other side is the old “we can’t make anybody feel bad, so let’s just say there’s no difference between the student who finished on top and whoever was at 151.”

I have no idea what modern day school is like, and you could argue that I didn’t know what it was like in my day as I hardly ever showed up and didn’t even come close to graduating (GED, baby!). But enough of how my mother felt in those days.

I guess there were jealous kids when I was in school, but for the most part I don’t remember most of us really caring how other kids did when it came to grades. We all knew the smart kids, mainly girls, though a couple of boys did shine, but I don’t think we ever stewed in jealously over them getting a 97 on a test while we had to make do with an 84. Hey, they were both passing grades.

I don’t know who the top student was in my class in 1985. I was long gone by graduation day, and once I was out of school, I never looked back until the first time I heard the words, “Go over to the high/junior/elementary school and take a picture of blah, blah, blah.”

But I assume they succeeded in life. You don’t get to be number one, even at a small town school with only 80 or so graduates, without something going on. And I’d guess number two went on to enjoy life. The entire top five probably, though life can fall apart at any time.

And I’m sure, at some point, where they graduated in their class stopped mattering, if it ever did once they entered the real world. While some potential employees demand a degree to do certain things, they never ask where you graduated from high school or in what order you were called to the stage. It’s just something you can be proud of long after everyone has stopped caring.

Another thing that caught my attention recently was the story about the New York parents who had to go to court to get their 30-year-old son out of their house. It wasn’t a case of him getting married, then divorced and moving back in. He just never left. The old “failure to launch” thing. He fought back, but was told to leave.

As someone who stayed on the old homestead way too long, I guess I was lucky my mother couldn’t afford to go to court. She didn’t make it easy to hang around in my 20s. She made me pay half the rent, help with groceries AND provide the car! I’m lucky I’m not living a life of crime.

I bet if I’d stayed in school, graduated at the top of my class and went to college I would’ve been out of the house at 18 and not been back in my mother’s home until I was 22 and couldn’t find anybody to hire me. But modern day kids wouldn’t understand that ...

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.