Letting go of valedictorian, not achievement

Felicia Yan, Staff Writer

Starting with the class of 2017, the Latin Honors System’s summa cum laude will be implemented in place of the Valedictorian, meaning that more students will be recognized for their academic achievement. Some students believe this is an effect of “Participation Trophy Syndrome”, in which all students are recognized in order to avoid unfair treatment and inequality, but when making the decision to implement the new system, both the administration and school staff believed that the Latin Honors System encourages healthy competition while maintaining the importance of academic honors, instead of fostering unhealthy obsessions over hundredths, sometimes even thousandths of a decimal.
The Latin Honors System prepares students for the real world. By recognizing more students, administration is not encouraging Participation Trophy Syndrome, because the students who receive the highest honor (summa cum laude) are still held accountable to a 3.9 or higher GPA. The ultimate goal of a new honors system is to be able to recognize more students who pull all-nighters to study for their calculus tests, stay up late to finish their Critical Reading Outlines, and go through their essays for the millionth time trying to perfect it, rather than awarding a single student who ends up with a GPA higher than another student by barely a tenth of a point.
In our society, success isn’t limited to one person—each person has a chance to reach higher standards or honors through their personal ambition and persistence—and thus we shouldn’t limit scholastic recognition to a single student either. By fostering the belief that students can receive academic distinction by working towards a high GPA without the need to compete for a higher GPA than another student, we emphasize the importance of students doing their best work without cultivating the need for excessive competition.
Although we learn in our English classes that the American Dream— the belief that there is opportunity for all, through hard work, to receive recognition and achievement—will inevitably fail, maybe, through our new Latin Honors System, it can become a reality.