Valedictorian, Class President Have Earned the Right to Speak at Graduation

A Counterpoint
Valedictorians are able to speak and represent their peers.
AI Image generated with Microsoft Copilot - Designer
Valedictorians are able to speak and represent their peers. AI Image generated with Microsoft Copilot – Designer

During graduation, everyone deserves recognition for the hard work that they put in to get to that place. To be on that stage in the arena, in their graduation robes, or just to be graduating at all is a huge accomplishment. 

The huge achievement that it is to receive a high school diploma is one that is often understated and underappreciated as college degrees slowly become the minimum over high school diplomas, and a letter grade does not tell you anything about the work ethic and effort that stand behind it.

Oftentimes, people think grades are just a reflection of your effort, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you work your butt off and still just get a C.

For making it through all four years, each and every senior deserves recognition and acknowledgement for their work. But while the idea of having someone from the middle of the pack is a sweet idea, having another student give a speech during graduation isn’t the way to go about showcasing that.

The entire purpose of a valedictorian speech is to have a representative of the class speak of the experiences and tribulations that their class has gone through to get there to graduation, and to speak of that class’s future. The implication that because you have good grades and are the top of your class means that you aren’t an accurate representation of your peers, and can’t be a representative of your class, discredits  the experiences of that student. If someone has good grades and has achieved academic success, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t go through the same experiences as everyone else. The Valedictorian can speak for the majority and can speak of the troubles of their class; earning the title of Valedictorian does not mean that one is  no longer able to relate to their peers.

In a perfect world, there would be a single person who would be able to perfectly encapsulate the experience of every student in a class and speak to what it was like for everyone, however with the vast variety of students who call LHS home, it’s nearly impossible for everyone to be fully represented.

Yes, being Valedictorian comes with benefits other than just the Valedictorian’s speech. For example, becoming a Valedictorian puts you ahead during college admissions, and you get to attend the Top Ten dinner. However, if being the speaker at graduation is being treated not just a way for a representative of the class to speak on that class’s experiences, but also a reward to be sought after, then the idea of having someone from the middle of the class speak makes even less sense.

If giving a speech at graduation is a reward to work hard for, then it makes sense that the top of the class would be given that opportunity. Even if it was something to be viewed as a prize, it should go to a student who had maybe participated in the most student activities, or made a large contribution to the school in some way.

No matter what though, the second another person to speak begins to be considered, the issue also loses its objectivity and becomes subjective. With the Valedictorian, the person who speaks is determined fully by grades, a number, a statistic that can’t be changed or influenced by human bias.  It is entirely objective, and it can’t be contested to have been chosen through favoritism or any other subjective means. When choosing another student to speak, a whole new can of worms is opened, where it can constantly be debated and argued about who it is that gets to speak; an issue not present when it is only the Valedictorian speaking.

With Valedictorian, there will of course always be people who are upset, or thought that they deserved that position instead,  but at the end of the day nobody chooses who the Valedictorian would be.  

When you start to choose who is giving a speech, there will always be the people who will be upset that they weren’t chosen. And unlike Valedictorian, that at the end of the day can’t be debated, since the person giving the second speech would have to be chosen then it is something that parents and children could argue with. It would just sow division among those in the class and cause animosity.

Having someone from the middle speak is a nice idea in theory, but it wouldn’t work in practice. There are too many questions it brings up, and in the end it would only hurt more people than it benefited. The purpose of speaking at graduation is to speak of that class’s experiences and to rally them for the future, you don’t need more than one person for that.

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About the Contributor
Arianna Conomacos
Arianna Conomacos, Opinions Editor
As Arianna Conomacos's first year on the editorial board, she is excited to help young beginning journalists and to help spread awareness on all the going ons of the school. Arianna has been a member of the Lancer Marching band since her freshmen year as a flute and piccolo player. She has been playing the flute for over a decade. She has been writing stories even before since she could write and can almost always be seen with a book. Known for her outspokenness in her opinions, you can almost always find her somewhere around school.

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    Penny Sampson
    Mar 18, 2024 at 9:21 am

    Well written and well thought out. To not have an objective measure for this honor would open the door to endless arguments and questioning that would only insight upset.

    The justifications for opening this door to subjectivity, have the potential to be endless which would lessen the impact of this longstanding honor.

    There is a measurable matrix from which this decision is made that all students are aware of and have been clearly informed. We don’t need more reasons for arguments and division. I think the points in this article are well stated and logical.