May 16th, 2012
12:32 PM ET

One high school, 25 valedictorians

by Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) The iconic Highlander line, “There can be only one” might apply at most other high schools.  But at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Florida, as many as 25 students could be classified as “valedictorian.”

What this means is that there are expected to be 25 straight-A students.  Since they have taken college-level courses, which carry weighted credit, the result is a 5.0 GPA for dozens of seniors.  And that’s not exactly unusual at Vanguard; last year, the school had 11 valedictorians.

So why is it graduating so many people at the top of the class?  The school’s ranking policy dates back to 2004, when there simply weren’t as many college-level courses available.  So with more of those to take and more students taking them, multiple 5.0 (perfect) GPAs are possible.  And the school uses GPAs – not numeric class scores – to rank its students.

Sharing a top-of-the-class honor doesn’t bother students like Preston Culbert.  “We weren’t trying to get a leg up on each other,” he said, “but you get towards the end and suddenly look at all these people who have succeeded just as well as you have.  I think it’s really great we can be rewarded in this way.”

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