an editorial by Aniko Zala, Staff Writer
Next year, a new system of determining class rank and awarding academic excellence will be introduced. This system does away with the tradition of valedictorian and allows many, many more students to be rewarded at the end of high school.
It appears that in order to alleviate the high pressure of class rank and determining valedictorian, our system of recognition is being changed. Changing the system should be a promising decision since the current one is full of flaws. However, the change going into effect has countless flaws of its own. This opinion outlines and compares the current system, the system planned to go into effect next year, and a system proposed by a West G. junior.
The current system
Presently, class rank is determined by cumulative GPA, and the valedictorian is anyone who achieved straight As through all of high school (this meant that last year West G had seven valedictorians). Obviously, this system has its flaws. Unless an elective is an AP or honors course, it can potentially bring down a students GPA. This system rewards those who take only AP and honors courses and fill the rest of their schedule with study halls. This encourages fewer classes, less learning and less ambitious students.
The new system
In the course selection handbook, the new system is stated as thus: Beginning with the class of 2005, class honors for graduates will be awarded on the basis of cumulative GPA (eight semesters) as follows: Above 4.0, Summa Cum Laude (with highest praise-Gold Medal); 4.0-3.75, Magna Cum Laude (with Great Praise-Silver Medal); 3.74-3.5, Sum Laude (with Praise-Bronze Medal).
With this system, how class rank is determined is still an issue. Just as before, a student can potentially be penalized by taking electives. This system does not fix the problem of the old one. Students are still rewarded for taking fewer electives and multiple study halls.
Secondly, we are not in college. Relatively higher grades are not as difficult to maintain in high school. In college, yes, 3.5 and higher is a notable achievement. However, at West G., almost half the school has a 3.0 GPA or higher. It defeats the whole point of rewarding students for academic achievement if almost every other student is getting an award.
Also, one person should be honored (not seven) for his or her outstanding academic achievements. Having a valedictorian is tradition. I am often an advocate for change, but in this case, there is no real need.
The system proposed by Rob Goehrke
In my system, a students GPA would be multiplied by his or her lifetime credits. This would reward those who filled their schedules with electives as opposed to those who had three study halls a day, while still encouraging honors and AP classes. This system rewards the ambitious students who love to learn and can handle few study halls. The valedictorian would be the person who did the best in the most and hardest classes.
By far, this system is the best of the three. The school would be encouraging and rewarding true academic prowess. This is what the school should be concerned about: rewarding true academic prowess.
It seems to me that West Gs standards are dropping. By allowing this system, we are not fixing a problem. Instead, we are keeping it while needlessly getting rid of a tradition at the same time. By alleviating the competition and imposing academic equality upon the students, scholastic excellence is stifled. This should not be something that the school encourages. Instead, true academic excellence should be honored, not mediocrity.