We’ve reported numerous stories over the years about high schools abolishing the practice of naming a valedictorian for the same reason youth sports organizations give out participation trophies. The reasoning, if that is the correct word, goes something like this: By rewarding one student’s excellence, you are denigrating other students’ lack thereof. Arguments that awarding excellence might inspire less stellar students to work harder at future endeavors fall on deaf ears.
One school district that made headlines for its decision to deep-six the valedictorian and salutatorian traditions — Wake County, North Carolina — is in the news again. CBS affiliate WBTV has the details:
A Wake County father said he wanted to honor his son for being valedictorian, even though the school won’t.
Garry Allmon said he hoped the digital billboard along U.S. 64/264 just past the Wendell Boulevard exit would also send a message.
The billboard reads, “Congrats Josh Allmon. You will always be our valedictorian. East Wake Class of 2018.”
Josh said his father mentioned the idea to him, but that he didn’t think he’d actually do it.
“It shows how much he loves me, for one, but also it shows he understands how the high achieving students work and wants to get the message across,” Josh said.
A spokeswoman for Wake County Schools said East Wake High no longer has valedictorians. That policy took effect last year. Lisa Luten said the school chose to adopt an innovative school model.
What irks Garry Allmon most is that the policy is not uniform among all schools in the district. This became painfully clear earlier this month when his son wasn’t invited to a special breakfast to honor 25 valedictorians across the district. If it’s any solace to him, next year the policy will be extended to all schools in the county.
As for Josh, in the video that follows he affirms his belief that the policy could hurt high achievers moving forward, who might be less competitive in the college admissions process.
No wonder he is valedictorian!