Why North Hills Does Not Have a Valedictorian

Why North Hills Does Not Have a Valedictorian

Kara Hoffman, Copy Editor

Have you ever wondered why North Hills High School does not have a valedictorian? As graduation season is nearing, many students, especially would-be valedictorian candidates, are wondering the same thing.

The top spot of the class is a highly coveted position, and according to North Hills High School Principal John Kreider, that is one of the main reasons it was eliminated beginning with the 2009-2010 school year.

It all comes down to the simple concept of class rank. Typically, you are given a number out of the total number of students in your grade that tells you where you lie in your class according to your grade-point average. Students achieving highly in weighted classes (AP, CHS, or Honors/Pre-AP courses) would probably find themselves somewhere at the top of the list. However, therein lied part of the problem.

The competition for the spot of valedictorian had become unhealthy and cutthroat at North Hills. Many students avoided taking unweighted classes in order to keep their grade-point averages up. Even an A in an unweighted class would bring their GPA down if they held above a 4.0. That doesn’t mean they were just avoiding regular physics and taking honors. Students were deliberately not taking classes like music, tech education, or foods in order to keep their averages sustained at a high level. Mr. Kreider recounted a few extreme instances of students that brought in medical waivers in order to opt out of taking physical education because it was an unweighted class.  As he states, “Students weren’t thinking, ‘How can I get the best education in high school?’ They were thinking, ‘How can I game the system?’”

Unfortunately, this issue is one that spans far beyond the borders of North Hills and into national light. As college admissions become increasingly competitive, students look for any and every way to make their application acceptance-worthy. That includes ruthlessly fighting their peers for the top spot of the class. To combat this worrying trend of unhealthy academic competition, many schools – including North Hills – have removed the system of class rank and recognition of a valedictorian. Instead, as Mr. Kreider explains, “we have moved toward recognizing the top 5% of every class.” Those are the people at graduation wearing the medals.

While there still might be value in the title of “valedictorian,” the wise decision of the North Hills’ administration to remove class rank has brought a great deal of peace to the school and its students. If you are a high achieving student, you are still recognized by the school for your successes and are invited to write a speech for graduation. Thankfully, the days of cutthroat competition for number one are in the past for North Hills High School.