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Friday, June 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Watered-Down Distinction Ironic As It Is Misleading

By Bruce Fatz Special To Opinion

The title of “valedictorian” should be an honor. But the valedictorian system that some school districts use is flawed. Instead of recognizing the one highest-ranking academic student, they choose all the straight-A students.

Maybe that is good, but maybe not.

As an example, I was one of Ferris High School’s 16 valedictorians this year. In place of a valedictory address, we took turns reading a story by Dr. Seuss. Fifteen of those students got something extra by being called “valedictorians,” but one student, the rightful valedictorian, was being cheated.

I guess one student is insignificant. It is more important to please the larger group.

Obviously, academic excellence was not of the highest value to Ferris High School. However, individual students were recognized as the best male and female athletes. What an honor to be selected as the best athlete! It is nice that our school can do that for athletics but a shame that it cannot do it for academics.

Why is it that one student was selected for these awards? With many athletes at Ferris who try very hard, maybe 16 students should have been presented that award to avoid hurting the others’ feelings.

The fact that these students were singled out made me realize that I had chosen the wrong area to specialize in. What a shame that I chose academics when, if I had played sports very well, I could have been distinguished at graduation.

Am I the only person who thinks this is wrong? Although professional athletes are some of the most important people in the world, should school systems encourage that or should they encourage academics? It does not seem like a difficult question to me.

Now, people could say that since one student received the athlete award and 16 were “valedictorians,” they value academics more. But I disagree.

The “valedictorians” were virtually undistinguished from the class. They received the same medallions as students with a grade-point average of 3.75 or above and sat right alongside them. So, the only difference between a 4.0 student and a 3.8 student was that the 4.0 student had the opportunity to stand up and read a Dr. Seuss story.

If one is to look at the situation realistically, he or she can see that Ferris’ title of “valedictorian” means nothing. Call them 4.0 students, because that is what they are, and we do not want to give them false impressions.

MEMO: “Your turn” is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a “Your turn” column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write “Your turn,” The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane 99210-1615.

“Your turn” is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a “Your turn” column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write “Your turn,” The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane 99210-1615.

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