But you’re *all* special

Lately a lot of articles and books about generational differences have come across my desk. Boomers, Gen X (me), Millennials. There are similarities, and not all the generalizations apply to everyone, but there are significant differences that you can’t avoid. My problem with the Millennials is their innate sense of entitlement which, in most cases, I place the blame squarely on their boomer parents. This sense of "we’re all special" and "we’re all winners" is just not realistic. Case in point:

I’ve got a high school graduation to go to on Saturday morning. Turns out that there’s going to be 11, yes eleven, valedictorians! ELEVEN!? I’m sorry, but doesn’t the very definition of this word make it a singular? Let’s check…

"the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises"

Yep, just what I thought. It’s not a plural within a single school. So, how do eleven students give a single valedictory address? The don’t. Er, well, they all do. In this case each of the eleven students is allowed to give a two minute speech. WTF? Yeah, a lot of wisdom from some very smart kids can be boiled down into what are in effect soundbytes. (As a co-worker described it: a Pecha Kucha graduation.) To make it worse, they were informed by the school that each talk had to be based around a movie and had to use quotes from the movie of choice to illustrate whatever they were trying to express. So much for trusting the smartest student in the class to make an appropriate or inappropriate speech as they see fit. Wouldn’t want to give them that amount of trust.

Now, I don’t know the exact reasons for having 11 valedictorians but I’m going to make an educated guess: we wouldn’t want to disappoint any of the 4.0 students. They’ve all earned it. Sorry, but ONE student has earned it, not eleven. If you’ve actually got a tie (statistically improbable that it’s an eleven-way tie, but not impossible) then use additional factors like attendance or extra curricular activities. Come on adults, show some backbone to your kids and pick a winner. The other ten will get over it.

Oh, and there’s going to be just one salutatorian. Just proving that earning either of these honors isn’t exclusive, just that you’re a member of a grade range.

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4 Replies to “But you’re *all* special”

  1. As a Gen Y member I agree. When 11 people earn the “highest” academic honor it means significantly less.

    I think the larger issue is grade inflation. Last weekend I attended a high school graduation. Over half of the class was on the honor roll and roughly 20% were on the high honor roll.

  2. At my high school graduation in the 90’s, there was apparently a “tie” for valedictorian among the 3 highest GPA students… so in that case, no valedictorian was chosen… basically so no student would feel “upset” or offended for not being chosen. But in the end, it was upsetting to all 3 students as none of them could claim to be valedictorian… failing to name any valedictorians is really the same thing as having 11, in my opinion. Yes, people, make a decision!

  3. I actually don’t think my valedictorian (in 1996) was the one with highest GPA. Throughout highschool he was usually in the top 5 (of the whole school), but I don’t know if he was #1. I think in my school’s case they chose him based on more than GPA. That’s what I thought all schools did.
    I think this situation is ridiculous!

  4. or have the faculty pick from the tied members as to whom would give the speech – and figure out some other way to honor the rest and acknowledge that they tied…

    My college actually did this anyway – the names of those with the top 6 gpas got sent to the faculty to vote on. in reality the one who was picked to speak, didn’t even end up valedictorian or salutatorian (both honors were announced at graduation – not known before)…

    As a millennial I know it can be crazy – I went to a private school, and I graduated 12th in a class of only 49…with a 4.345 GPA… I had a friend in another class who had a solid 3.9 and was 30th in his class… Adding points for honors and AP classes is part of what caused the problem – but even without it – there were many of us who would have been very close to tied…(then again I’d have probably been higher then, since there was no such thing as honors choir…so doing music actually in one sense brought my gpa down…) Anyway – the point is that yes its an epidemic of craziness…

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