Valedictorian goals shift as students age


Brooke Riley

A plaque displayed by the office shows past valedictorians from 1979 to 2016.

Bex Rangel, Reporter

It’s difficult to picture life after high school. Students acquire a sense of familiarity to the daily pains of life with the help of their metaphorical Band-Aids: teachers, counselors, and other school faculty. The span of these four years are spent on efforts that can go on transcripts and scholarships, while hopefuls seek accolades to help improve their chances in succeeding.

However, with an upcoming close to the year, many students are without the motivation to continue their daily routine. Neither tests nor the workload decrease, which may lead those who are particularly lacking in work ethic to the question, “How do they do it?”

They, referring to candidates for valedictorian.

“I’ve always been the kind of person where I need one day by myself,” valedictorian candidate Karen Goeschel said. “But other than that, if I’m stressed, I want to be around my friends. I still make time for my friends.”

Time management, according to Karen Arnold, author of “Lives of Promise: What Becomes of High School Valedictorians,” is a trait valedictorians tend to have. They typically value balance and aren’t too obsessed over work.

“My sophomore year, I wouldn’t go to sleep until all my homework was done,” Goeschel said. “Now I have a study hall, so I feel much more relaxed. I’ve gotten into the mindset now where sleep, and my health and wellbeing are more important, so if I’m super stressed about something, I’ll do it, but if I’m super, super tired, I’ll just go to bed and worry about it later.”

Other students understand the stress straight-A students might have to go through. Advanced and AP classes, which are designed to work at a faster pace, challenge students to keep a steady grade.

“I remember last year, I got my first B, and up to that point, I wanted to be valedictorian,” junior Helen Jacobson said. “I was taking a really hard class, which most people my age aren’t in. I was taking advanced pre-calc as a sophomore, and I remember staying up late and pulling all-nighters and getting stressed out, thinking I was messing up my future of being a valedictorian.”

According to the student handbook, 14 credits of advanced classes and 12 credits of Advanced Placement classes are needed to become valedictorian. A student could take advanced courses in science, math, and history, but never step foot in an advanced or AP English class.

“If you really care about being valedictorian, instead of taking an advanced class and getting a B and challenging yourself, you might just take a regular and be valedictorian,” senior Addison Gangwish said.

While being valedictorian is a statement on academic success, a few students think that it’s not necessarily the most important accolade that you could receive.

“I think that being a rounded person who pursues their interests and does things outside of academics, as well as showing that you’re pushing yourself, even if you get a B or two, it shows that you’re testing your greatest abilities and you’re able to get a bad grade and bounce back from that,” Jacobson said.