School could scrap valedictorian system

Proposal would eliminate valedictorian title

JEFFERSONVILLE, IND. (WHAS11) - Graduation day for one local school district could soon look different without any Valedictorians.

The Greater Clark School district is considering a proposal that would remove the title for the highest achieving student at each school and put a new system of recognition in place.

Greater Clark Superintendent Andrew Melin tells WHAS11 News this could soon be the norm at schools across the country and he hopes to follow in the steps New Albany Floyd Schools and eliminate the Valedictorian system in favor of a more inclusive program to honor students.

For people like Clinton Riggle, being the Valedictorian was the ultimate goal in high school.

“The valedictorian system was a way for all of the students in my age gap to strive for something better,” Riggle said.  “They really set the bar, and headed for something higher than just your GPA.”

However Greater Clark Superintendent Andrew Melin says there is growing sentiment nationwide that the Valedictorian system creates unhealthy competition.

“When students are competing for the Val and the Sal they’re trying to find ways to maneuver through the system to try, and get the best grades they can possibly get, as opposed to taking the course work that’s truly in their own best interest,” Melin said.

Instead of honoring 1 or 2 kids Superintendent Melin is proposing a new system that honors the top 10% of each class which would more than 50 students at a school like Jeff High.

“We’ve got all of these great students that work very hard, and become very distinguished in their academic career and we want to be able to recognize more of those students at the end of a given year,” Melin said.

However by honoring a greater percentage of students, some believe it's making what was once a great achievement the equivalent of a participation award.

“Healthy competition is a good thing and I think in academics above anything else it definitely is,” Riggle said.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the best being rewarded, and the rest of them coming up and trying harder to get there,” Glenda Faith said.

“There’s nothing being given to any of these kids,” Melin said.  “These are kids that have legitimately over a four year period earned all of their grades. Nothing is being given to them."

The Greater Clark County School Board will discuss the change in philosophy at their meeting Tuesday, Sep. 6.

If it is approved by the board members the current freshman would be the first class without a Valedictorian.


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