Opinion

No hurt feelings: 21 valedictorians named in one school

21 valedictorians
Oregon’s South Medford High’s “21 valedictorians.”
Only one of these 21, #1’s is actually number 1.
Photo Credit: NBC News

“If you ain’t first, you’re last” – Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) in “Talladega Nights.”

Well, not in today’s America. Oh, no. We can’t just have one person being first – that would hurt other’s feelings. We need everyone feeling important and special and happy and honored. So, give everyone an award!

Not one, but 21, valedictorians will graduate top of their class from South Medford High School in Oregon next weekend, NBC News reported. This is up from the 18 in 2012 and the 14 in 2011.

Of those 21, the one who is really, really the number one ranked student will give the “farewell address.”

Making an entire farce of this one-time serious academic achievement.

This is so ridiculous even the local Mail Tribune editor Bob Hunter took a swipe at the school:

But 21 valedictorians? Raises some eyebrows, as well as questions about grade inflation. Again, the kids with 4.0′s deserve the recognition and will likely to go on to do great things. No one can take the valedictorian label away from them — but perhaps it doesn’t mean as much when it’s shared with 20 other students.

Those of us with high school students understand the very complicated “weighted versus unweighted” grade point averages calculated by honors and advanced placement classes. It’s confusing, and a story for another day.

But it’s how schools ultimately calculate their students’ grade point averages. And it’s how South Medford will determine who is actually the top graduate out of their 21 top graduates.

In this case, all 21 students with a 4.0 earned the title of valedictorian, and everyone is just so thrilled by the whole thing.

“When I’m on the stage at graduation, watching each valedictorian come up and get a spot, they’re having a blast. I never detect any feeling of, ‘Oh my gosh this has gotten too big to be anything.’ They’re so amped to be able to say their part (as valedictorian),” South Medford’s principal Kevin Campbell told NBC.

According to NBC:

But for the 21 No. 1s at South Medford High, there is only camaraderie, said Jennifer Schneider, mom to Zack, one of those top seniors.

“The group of kids that he has tracked with over the years, we’ve known several of them all the way back to elementary school,” she said. “So to see the same group of kids accelerate and become such successful, wonderful men and women makes us so proud.”

Though naming multiple valedictorians is a growing trend in our must-make-everyone-feel-good schools, colleges aren’t that impressed by valedictorians anymore for just this reason.

And what a shame for those true top students who deserve what used to be a real academic honor. Three cheers for the schools that still acknowledge one valedictorian and one salutatorian.

More from NBC News.

Remember the good old days with “Ricky Bobby’s” famous words, “If you ain’t first, you’re last”:

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