Few freshmen plan the next four years of their lives around one event, but those who do may be honored with the title of valedictorian or salutatorian, representing the highest academic achievers of their class.
To achieve the status of either valedictorian or salutatorian students are currently required to receive nothing less than A’s throughout their high school career as well as taking at least 13 Advanced Placement and/or honors classes.
“The goal is to challenge our [most difficult] courses in a significant number …and receive an A in everything you tried,” Principal Rick Lopez says.
At this time the minimum number of AP and honors courses is 13, but the addition of AP Human Geography two years ago prompted the question of whether the requirement for valedictorian and salutatorian will change to 14 rigorous classes, and if so, when?
The administration has not yet decided if the change will be implemented to this year’s sophomore or freshman class, as, according to junior class counselor Jeff Schatz, it might be “too limiting” to apply it to the sophomore class since only a select few were chosen to test AP Human Geography.
However, this is not necessarily a defining factor according to Lopez who acknowledges that more than the required number of AP and honors classes have always been accessible to students who wished to take them.
In general, those who would be considered for valedictorian or salutatorian agree with the administration.
Senior Christopher Good, who has taken 15 combined AP and honors classes, and junior Yuan Tao, who has taken 9 combined AP and honors classes, are not surprised with a change in the criteria, and both say that it would make sense for it to be applied to the sophomore class.
“I tend to think it’s fair because I think the top kids already surpass [the requirement],” Good adds.
For the students who have met the criteria, their names are given to the valedictorian committee made up of the principal, assistant principal, senior class counselor, the Teacher or Mentor of the Year from the previous year and one AP or honors teacher.
While the primary focus of the committee is to choose one student who achieves outstanding academic success, Lopez makes it clear that a student’s GPA is not the only thing that matters.
“We don’t want people avoiding music courses or [other] non-augmented course just get the highest GPA to be the valedictorian,” Lopez adds. “That doesn’t necessarily measure the best student.”
Students do not submit an application, interview or essay. The decision comes down to the quality and quantity of their work over the four years spent at CHS in order to represent the academic dedication with which they challenged each course.