As the Pasco School Board was discussing the possibility of doing away with the long-running practice of designating the top two graduates at high school graduation ceremonies, Superintendent Kurt Browning wasn’t going too far out on a limb when he suggested the idea will produce “throngs of people who will rise up in arms.” Actually, one of the graduation ceremony changes the board is considering as part of its overhaul of the school district’s progression has merit. By approving the one Browning raised the warning flag about, however, the board runs the risk of being accused of trying another attempt at self-esteem building.
A school district committee has recommended doing away with naming the top finisher in high school graduating classes the valedictorian and the number-two grad the salutatorian. “I truly believe the time has come when we need to recognize more students than two,” board member Joanne Hurley said. Instead, the committee wants to encourage schools to use Latin terms to designate students graduating “with praise,” “with great praise” and “with the highest praise.”
At present some schools use the Latin terms and some don’t. We’re not sure what reason a school’s administrators would have for forgoing the use of the terms and would encourage them to do so.
On the other hand, we don’t see why a desire to see more graduates honored would require the end of naming valedictorians and salutatorians. Most of the students who finish in the top two places in their classes got there by well-above-normal effort. We can honor them without scarring the egos of the other graduates.