By Alan Grove, KnoxPages.com Reporter
CENTERBURG - For most schools, the valedictorian is the top student, and there is typically only one, the student ranked first; but not at Centerburg. Centerburg High School has a set of requirements where multiple students can be a valedictorian. Now, you would think this wouldn’t be a problem for the requirements are typically hard to achieve, but that’s not the case for the class of 2017 at Centerburg. This class has 11 valedictorians graduating May 21 at 2 p.m.
Senior valedictorian Gabe Coffing said he thinks it is strange to have 11 valedictorians.
“I’ve heard many say it takes away the true meaning of being valedictorian when there is a range [of GPA] for people to meet instead of having the actual highest GPA,” Coffing said. “I understand what those people mean, but personally, I don’t think too much about it. I’m just glad to have a high GPA.”
Another one of the senior valedictorians, Savannah Glasscock, said she thinks having 11 valedictorians shows how intelligent and competitive of a class they are, but she thinks that it is a tad too many valedictorians.
“[It] almost takes away the honor from the title because there are so many of us,” Glasscock said. “At the ceremony we are going to have a few people give speeches, and then I believe we are going to read a book aloud to [the rest of] the class.”
Glasscock thinks to avoid a situation like this in the future the standards for valedictorian should be higher and even more competitive.
“From what I had always understood before hearing how Centerburg did it, it was just the top ranked person in the class, which I think makes it very competitive and obviously limits the valedictorians to only one.”
Centerburg principal Ryan Gallwitz said this is because of a unique problem with weighted grades. All post secondary classes were weighted, which allowed for the number of valedictorians to go up. “Next year’s class will not see this problem,” Gallwitz said. “We saw this coming, and that’s why we made this change.”
CHS guidance counselor Stephen Parpart said the GPA requirement for valedictorian used to be 4.2 or higher thanks to the availability of weighted classes, now it will be 3.97 or higher for valedictorian and 3.95 or higher for salutatorian for future years and no weighted classes.
“I can’t think of anything that is going to be different except for the ceremony at graduation;” Parpart said. “Valedictorians have always done a speech that can go 5 to 10 minutes, obviously we cannot have 11 five to ten minute speeches at a graduation that is already two hours long.”
Parpart said starting with the class of 2018, all eight requirements for the honors diploma will have to be met to be a valedictorian or salutatorian.
“Three foreign language, four math, four English, four social studies, four science including physics, one fine art, 27 or higher on the ACT, and 3.5 or higher GPA are the eight requirements,” Parpart said. “That’s going to knock down the number of valedictorians significantly. I expect between one and three valedictorians for the years to come.”
Junior Cassy Losego said she understands why the changes are being made, but without weighted classes it is hard to show who is taking harder classes or not.
“By making the requirements different, it does make it harder to get honors,” Losego said.