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.”

The windfall of achievement does create a bit of a conundrum for school officials.  With as many as 25 valedictorians, who gives the graduation commencement speech?  And will there even be a salutatorian?  A school official from Marion County said having one of those would be “silly…especially in this case.”

The solution:  All of the valedictorian candidates are submitting the speech they’d give.  A committee will select one winner to actually do the talking, and regardless of who that turns out to be, every valedictorian will get a silver plate on graduation day.

Critics say having so many valedictorians could dilute the honor at Vanguard. Others believe it's a motivating factor: Since more than one student can be valedictorian, more students will try harder for the shared title.

You won’t find many principals who’d object to this, though.  Principal Cynthia Saunders of Ocala’s Lake Weir High called having multiple valedictorians “tremendous,” saying she’d be happy to have the problem of choosing one graduation speaker from a group of top achievers.

As for the Vanguard valedictorians, no matter who is chosen to speak, their accomplishment speaks for itself.

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soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Ms. Sheets 7th Hour

    Only the students who want to make a speech should be allowed to collaborate with eachother. They should create their speech together, and then each read a part of it on the stage or select a person among them to read their speech.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  2. Owen

    I think the person that contributes the most to that senior class should be valedictorian. It means a lot to be head of your class and I think the person with more connections should be head.

    May 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  3. Le

    All students in a class should have a chance to earn an A. If one year, 45% of a class earned an A, the teacher may have taught the students well, and the students studied. There is no motivation for students in the back rows of a class room to study if they know the teacher is forced to only give 4 students - 15% of the class an A. I remember knowing that at least four front row kids in my class would grab the A's and I only had a chance of earning an B or C. WHEN THE TEACHER DOES HIS/HER JOB the whole class should earn A's and be awarded A's. A's should not be out of reach to all students. Ending the Elitist system of a forced bell curve is a good thing. Isn't the bell curve for explaining independent random events? In high school the students are learning a fixed set of course material with a fixed set of questions. Grades will spread out naturally. Too bad a 3.99 student will now not get a salutatorian honor; sounds elitist.

    A teacher only has to get 4 students to an A level to be successful. So that is an 85% failure rate of getting students to know the material.

    May 18, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  4. Participation Trophy

    I recall the valedictorian from my senior class. She was a straight A student, but had taken many lightweight classes. Our Salutatorian had taken many AP classes, but got a B in one of them. Our salutatorian scored higher on SAT & ACT tests and got into a better college. The valedictorian is a secretary in an insurance office...

    May 18, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  5. Yes,Really!

    It is amazing to me to read some of the ignorant comments that have been posted. My daughter will be attending Vanguard High School next year as part of their IB program. It is a program within the school that the students must apply to and be accepted to in order to participate. Of the over 400 middle school students that applied, 125 were accepted. In order to be considered a valedictorian, a student must have at least 24 honors, AP or IB classes (which are weighted more heavily than regular classes) and must have earned an A in all of them. That does not mean they have never made a mistake throughout high school as someone was so "kind" to point out. It is a rigorous curriculum and the 25 valedictorians have truly earned that honor and should be proud of their accomplishments.

    May 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • ohreally

      Oh really. So how did all of these brilliant students do on the AP and IB exams? If any of them got a 3 or less on an AP exam then their A in the classroom along with this 25 co-valedictorian honor is a scam. Whoever scored the highest on these exams should be given the honor, not the other 24 prospering from grade inflation.

      May 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  6. dkf

    Here is a nerd-tacular way of looking at it-

    First, grades fall along a bell curve. D's and F's fall to the left, the middle is dominated by C (the average), then B's and A's to the right

    Valedictorian should be the very far right of the curve, that is more than the 95 to 99 percentile

    This 25 Valedictorian shows that curve was skewed right and skewing is exactly the case here. Meaning that the curve was moved by artificial means.

    The article says that much, students were allowed a more than a 4.0 gpa by taking college credit courses and then defines a Valedictorian as one with a 4.0 or more.

    The game didn't change... No, the school, principal, teachers, parents, community... THE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE CHANGED the rules.

    So the real Valedictorian is hidden among 25 because when the group hits the real bell curve in college or in the real world they will fall in the middle.

    I pity those fools because they will be get a very sudden and gut wrenching reality check 🙂

    May 17, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Sigma Freud

      DKF, it's funny that you even acknowledge the "real world", given your crack (as in smoking it) statistical analysis. The curve is not skewed, the curve is what it is; it just doesn't conform to your expectations of a "normal" distribution. I think the facts probably represent a "gut-wrenching reality check" for you. It sounds like these are all bright and capable students – let's hope they have the good sense not to become mindless adherents to theory.

      May 18, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • ironau

      Well that response shows you weren't sufficiently educated. A Bell Curve only apply to INDEPENDENT RANDOM EVENTS. Students learning a fixed set of course material is not random and not independent. So you can't use a bell curve.

      If the national Spelling Bee gave a each contestant the same set of 25 words to spell you wouldn't have one winner, you would have many winners. The same happens here. Since each kid is given the same test with the same question (Not Random) they all have the opportunity to be perfect on the exam. Since the exam is created by the teacher and the teacher is teaching the course, the student's performance isn't random.

      If Vanguard uses only an A, B, C, D, F scale rather than including the + & – then 100%-91% is generally an A. This increases the chance of having many kids all get As for the course.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Carl

      Sorry, you're wrong on this one. While the bell curve is representative of a large random population, this particular population is highly selective, filled with extremely bright and capable students who are specially tested and selected. Both of my children were in similar honors/IB high school programs that drew from the entire county. Both graduated with top honors and continued the same level of performance at two of the nation's most prestigious universities. One has gone on to a combined MD/PhD program (which admits only a few percent of those who apply) and is still performing at the very top of the class. The vast majority of high school honors still go to athletes, with entire teams often receiving the same recognition. Let's embrace programs like this high school that cultivate our best and brightest and provide opportunities to achieve outstanding academic success. Hats off to the 25 scholars!

      May 18, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  7. jtown

    This is ridiculous. When I was in school, ties in grades were broken with participation in school clubs, athletic participation, extracurricular activities, contributions to the community, representing the school in extramural events, etc. There's no way in heck that 20 kids have exactly identical records across all of those areas. I remember what a big deal it was one year at my high school when two people really were virtually identical across the board and they finally decided to have two valedictorians. They spent weeks trying to pick one over the other.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  8. Kris

    This is Obama's fault.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Rebus

      Are you high? You must be if you are talking about kids that were in school longer than Obama has been in office (and I'm no Obama fan).

      May 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  9. ready

    Ah yes good job making valedictorian meaningless.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  10. jqweorjkalsjfdlkajsdflkj;alksdjflasdjf

    Pretty soon the entire class will be valedictorians as the politically correct crowd will mandate an A for everyone in every course no matter what.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Captn Planet


      May 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  11. Mojo

    I am completely against the 'everyone gets a trophy' mentality. Kids need to learn the way the real world works, and that poor performance is not to be rewarded.

    It's ridiculous that kids can't play dodgeball anymore because they might be shamed by being picked last/eliminated early.

    May 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  12. Captn Planet

    IB is no joke folks. Don't be jealous because you are another ignorant brick in the wall. We were taught on an international level. The rest of the world teaches students to problem solve, not just plug stuff into a formula. Read a book. Wow.

    May 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Captn Planet

      I am aware that the american IB program is far inferior to other nations as well, so don't post

      May 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
      • Mojo

        Cite examples, studies that support this. O/w, you're argument is unsubstantiated and just comes off like you hate America for some reason.

        My high school most definitely required the application of knowledge. How else could I excel in engineering (professional problem solver) in college at a top university?

        May 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Captn Planet

      And might I add my thanks and appreciation for the wonderful education I received, 4 years of brilliant and enlightened teachers. Mrs. Moline received the silver apple and let me tell you, she earned it.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  13. Mojo

    I was one of 23 valedictorians 12 years ago at my high school. It was defined as having a GPA above 4.0. I actually had 2 Bs in high school, but my As in AP courses still put me above 4.0. Every one of the 23 valedictorians was acccepted to top universities, myself included (University of Virginia). This was not a case of giving high grades. We were motivated students that worked our butt off. I got a 1400 on my SAT, though most of the other 22 probably had higher scores than this because my English skills are lacking (770 math, 630 verbal). I also received a 5 on every AP test I ever took (Physics Mech and E&M, BC Calc, Stat, etc). Our success was the result of good teachers and motivated students, not grade giving. And the high school I went to is a top 50 public HS in the nation.

    May 17, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • NoMojos Please

      Well you obviously failed humility class. It's one thing to be take pride and another to gloat details about the entire curriculum. If you are so brilliant, Sergei Brin is it? or is this Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Barack Obama or Mark Zuckerburg writing – why aren't you changing the world during business hours instead of boasting on an anonymous comment board?

      May 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
      • H. habilis

        Mojo is not bragging. Simply noting that there are high achieving students out there in a world full of posers and mean-spirited anonymous comment-makers. Congrats to you Mojo and to all of the intelligent students who eventually enter into a society increasingly dominated by anti-intellectualism, irrational thinking, judgement, and hubris.

        May 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • fairlight76

      Mojo, your argument would carry more weight if your comments were grammatically correct. Is it possible that all of the valedictorians in your class actually shared one "butt" as you stated?

      May 18, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • professor

      Mojo- I am interested and have serious questions. Do you have a great job prospect? Do you feel you are equally skilled socially as you are intellectually? Do you have to achieve high level accomplishments to feel satisfied or can you just enjoy a simple event such as planting a flower and watching it grow as you sit on your porch with a cup of coffee in the morning? I find myself getting caught up in achieving and loosing the simple you? I had to learn many social skills after high school- I made many mistakes. Do you?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  14. OvernOut

    My middle kids' class had 17 students with GPAs over 4.0 due to AP classes. Each kid was allowed to give a brief (about 30 seconds) statement. It was more fun than listening to some cliche-ridden, dull speech. BTW, my own kid had a 3.9999 GPA, and will be graduating from a Big 10 university in 3.5 years next winter. The top 17 kids were all her best friends, and they are all graduating in 3.5-4 years, too, and none of them have college loan debt.

    May 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  15. Solo

    This is done because so many are not graduating from high school and those that do, do not have the skill level equal to a ten year old academically speaking (especially in areas of reading and math) so they "dumb down" public schools and this is the result. "Everyone gets a trophy" mentality does not work.

    Public schools= higher taxes; lower results.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  16. jj

    Sounds like high grading.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Mojo

      Sounds like you have no idea what you're talking about

      May 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  17. Katrina

    So what if there are 25? That doesn't necessarily mean the education is devalued. The IB program has an curriculum and standard defined by an international body. These students weren't judged by Florida standards, they were deemed excellent by international standards. It's a little harder to water those down just to make your school look better... I attended two high schools (because of a poorly timed move) one IB and one with just AP classes and then moved on to attend a college program ranked 2nd in the nation and I can say with complete conviction they earned their straight A's, and they earned them in classes harder than most first year college students put up with, while fulfilling mandatory community service requirements.

    If you qualify for the IB program you can attend the school regardless of your defined school district. These were the top 25 students in the drivable area. Likely without the IB program in place a few of them would have attended other high schools and been valedictorians elsewhere. Should they have forgone the more challenging education just so they could be "perfect" at a school that did have lower standards? It's ridiculous to even propose penalizing them for doing more and still rising to the challenge.

    Also just to clarify a statistic I've seen come up a few times – the presence of an IB program greatly skews the ranking and test scores of the school. You allow and encourage the smartest students in the area to all attend one high school and of course that school's test scores are higher than average. Those kids are smart, even a terrible teacher would have a hard time getting bad scores out of them. The rest of the school probably has close to average test scores.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  18. postgrad

    Just wait till they get to college and they are graded on a curve.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  19. bvilleyellowdog

    This makes so much difference – NOT. University admissions these days look at how you do relative to the rest of your own HS class. If there are 24 more just like you it means NOTHING!

    May 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  20. Locker

    Like College Football the answer to this is a play-off. The contenders all face off to see who comes out on top.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  21. MMY

    My son's graduating high school class had 10 validictorians. That was out of a class of 50 students. Gossip was that since it was a "small town" high school, the classes were easier. When the ACT scores of the 10 came out, all were 31 or above. Size of the school had nothing to do with it. Kids seem more motivated at a small school. Smaller student to teacher ratio. All were active in sports, music and other school activites. When you have a liimited number of students, everyone does a number of extra-curricular activites. Keep them busy and out of trouble.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  22. JU

    No big deal. My child is graduating this year and while they go on a 4.0 scale, 73 students are graduating with a 4.0 or above (AP weighted grades make them go higher). I think you could find many, many schools across the country where this occurs.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  23. Le

    All students in a class should have a chance to earn an A. If one year, 75% of a class earned an A, the teacher may have taught the students well, and the students studied. There is no motivation for students in the back rows of a class room to study if they know only 15% of class can earn an A. I remember knowing that at least three kids in my class would grab the A's and I only had a chance of earning an B or C. WHEN THE TEACHER DOES HIS/HER JOB the whole class should earn A's and be awarded A's. A's should not be out of reach to all students.

    May 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  24. hamsta

    This can only mean 25 kids made it through all 4 years of high school without making a mistake on any test. im calling this total and complete bullcrap.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • goupackers

      Really? Last time I checked, 94-100% is an A. Just like in life, you can make some mistakes, and still learn and succeed.

      May 17, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Jo

      You haven't met any smart and hard working people, have you? BTW, if you get 90/100 of all tests you'll still get a 4.0 GPA

      May 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  25. Cheaters never Win!

    Wow they must of all cheated again! Another case of hanging chads....

    May 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  26. Jackson

    This is really awesome! The school stepped up their curriculum and the students rose to the challenge. What a great accomplishment for all 25 kids.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  27. Nick

    There can only be one valedictorian unless they are going to have more than one valedictory! They need to pick one from them and that one student is the valedictorian.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  28. Ferb

    The IB program was the best thing I ever did. While I did not get accepted into the school of my choice, I completed my first year of college with 30+ credits from the program and college has been very easy for me. I feel confident now that should I decide to transfer, I could get accepted into most any school.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  29. homie

    I am about to take my last IB exam and trust me, it is not worth it. Just go to a AP high school, get a better GPA, and go to a better college. Unless you want to go to the UK or Australia, just do normal AP classes.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Christian

      Stop acting like the IB curriculum is so much tougher than the AP.

      I took both the IB and AP biology tests in high school, and received the highest score on both. The curriculum for each is comparable, do you really think one "college level" high school course could be that much harder than another?

      May 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  30. PaulMN

    Ever hear of grade inflation?

    May 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • David

      You have hit the nail on the head. Students are demanding (yes, demanding) high grades, whether they earn them or not. Parents want the same – not because they care if their child has learned anything or not, but because higher grades result in more money for college. Until grades are given on a curve (i.e. 15% A's, 20% B's, 30% C's, 20% D's, 15% F's), grades will continue to rise and become less and less relevant.

      And yes, I have been teaching for many years.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
      • a teacher

        Dear David,

        As a teacher, I find it disturbing that you think that only a certain percentage of a class should get A's. While it is true that there is usually a naturally occurring curve when you look at group scores I don't think this means only a finite number of A's, B's etc. should be awarded. If I give the same challenging exam to all of my student and 50% of them earn an A should I only give 20 of them the actual A? This makes no sense. I would be proud that they worked hard and earned the A and give them the grade they actually earned.

        May 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Jo

      @PaulMN: Ever met smart people?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  31. Ben Johnson

    This type of thing dilutes the program and is somewhat similar to the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality. There is only room for 1 at the top. That person should be distinguished and if there must be multiples, how about multiple salutatorians? A singular distinction brings out the absolute best in everyone. Knowing that there will be more than 1 valedictorian, encourages students to just be good enough.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • markinfl

      How? You still have to get straight A's. What more do yo want?

      May 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Jackson

      If 2 kids in a high school track meet run identical 11.234 times in the 100 meter dash, they both get gold medals. You obviously know nothing about school valedictorians. No different than numerous students graduating with honors in colleges and universities.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  32. Michael

    It amazes me that there are all of these comments that are hate filled, politically motivated, and clearly ignorant of any facts. People! You are ALREADY on the internet! If you don't believe the story, if you question the accuracy, if you are unsure how they came to the numbers, if you need to know any fact about this school, the facts are literally at your finger tips. With one google search you can find test scores, rankings, student demographics, how test scores are determined, etc. How about instead of spewing hate, racism, political vitriol, and bigotry, you actually take 3 minutes to do a little research?!

    May 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Sarah H.

      Could you tell me which click it is. I get lost so easily.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Alexander Rogge

      There is a lot of stupidity and hatred running around in these news commentaries. I don't know what attracts so many stupid people to these places, people who try to comment on things that they don't understand or things that they feel must be ridiculed, but it's pretty bad lately.

      May 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
      • RMJ

        But you calling folks "stupid people" is OK...

        May 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  33. KC Bob

    My sons graduating class had something like 12 Valedictorians and 7 saluditorians this year. The honored students all got together and produced a single speech. Each person read a couple paragraphs of the speech which honored everyones efforts while not taking hours to get through. Although it was great to see so many kids receive such a high honor, I couldn't help but notice that there were only 120 graduates; meaning that about 15 percent of the graduating class had perfect or near perfect GPA's. Is the school really that good.... or were the teachers simply teaching to the lowest common denominator of student so that everyone with two brain cells gets to graduate and those with three get to stand on the stage?

    May 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  34. Jason

    @matt meachen, I certainly agree that communism has little to say for itself. But "[communist countries] didn't reward straight A grades?" Soviet university students with a "red diploma" (i.e., all 5's, the equivalent of straight-As) had a smooth entry into the nomenklatura, for the most part. And elite scientists were treated reasonably well in the USSR.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  35. jake

    This is how you have all those sob stories for the Dream Act, surely one of the 25 is an illegal who will make headlines for being so absolutely brilliant they can't be deported. When you have teachers grading on curves and trying to give the sympathetic students a leg up going to college- grades can't be believed. 10% of the 'honor role' students in Los Angeles couldn't pass the high school exit exam.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  36. Bridget

    In Texas, the valedictorian receives their first year of college tuition free. Wondering if the same rule applies to those in Florida?

    May 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • MC

      Florida has a scholarship program called bright futures. If your GPA is high enough, you satisfy some community service requirements, and you have fair SAT scores, you get a scholarship to in-state schools. This scholarship amounts to $101 dollars per credit hour, so yes, these 25 valedictorians are likely getting their first, and second, third, and fourth year's tuition paid for.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  37. Todd in DC

    You know, aluminum foil will ward off the harmful government rays WAY better than tin foil.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  38. Thagmc

    Vanguard is an IB high school. My child is graduating from an IB school this week. These programs are very challenging, very demanding programs for the students that prepare them for college. They are weighted classes. Vanguard is in the top 25 high schools in Florida. My child does not go to Vanguard; we don't live anywhere near Florida. Before you start commenting negatively on the students, school, teachers, and class material of the school, do your research. I'm not saying every student mentioned in the article is an IB student, but the odds would be pretty high. The program my daughter is in is excellent, and I feel she is much better prepared for college and life than some of her former classmates at a non-IB school.

    Also, my step-son went to a private school. One of "the best" in town. Private schools insulate students, and do not teach them how to deal with the "real world". There were several students in his class who read on a fourth or fifth grade level, at best, because the teachers continue to pass the students, instead of teaching them what they need to know. I am much more impressed with how the public school has prepared my daughter for college and life than how the private school prepared my son.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • What is IB?

      What is IB? Irritable Bowel? Irish Bigots? Irate Bubba? Iridescent Bosoms? What? What is it?

      May 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
      • PrincessBride

        International Baccalaureate. Unlike AP, which is a series of college-level classes, IB is an entire advanced curriculum that is more accelerated than typical US high schools. IB standards are, as the name implies, international, and therefore an IB diploma is recognized for its rigor by universities across the globe. I only wish we had an IB school near us....

        May 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
      • markinfl

        International Baccalaureate. According to Michelle Bachmann it is some sort of conspiracy. So it is clearly a very good program.

        May 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
      • Carrie Nation

        No, it's "Irate Barstools." It's a very in-depth anti-alcohol campaign with a very rigorous curriculum.

        May 17, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • PrincessBride

      It looks like 25% of the student body is enrolled in the IB program. I'm wondering if they have different weighting scales for IB and non-IB students. I suspect they don't, and all the IB students end up lumped together at the top. IB is an excellent, demanding program, and anyone who graduates with IB should be proud of their accomplishment. But I do think the school might want to revisit how they do ranking to more accurately reflect the achievements of the IB students.

      May 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  39. jolleydm

    About 450 students in the graduating class (per Wikipedia). That means over 5% get to be a valedictorian.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  40. Louis

    Grade inflation pure and simple.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Mojo

      Ignorance of the subject by Lou plain and simple

      May 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  41. Garrison

    Ocala changes its name to Lake Wobegone.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  42. Frank Garrett

    Being Valadictorian at Ocala High School is like winning the special olymipics, even if you win, you're still retarded.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Aeromechanic

      Damnit dude, thats what i was going to say.

      May 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • marci

      What a horrible thing to say! How can you compare the students with a 5.0 GPA taking college level courses with those students with Intellectual disabilities? It appears you do not have any where near the class either of these groups of students have.

      May 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • drgeorge

      Frank that is a very insulting comment to those who have disabilities. They need to be given respect and if anyone wins something they deserve to be congratulated.

      May 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • a teacher

      This is a disgusting comment. I can't believe you would put your name next to it.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  43. Jay

    Sounds like the issue is cropping, and this is not to be celebrated.

    For those of you not familiar with the term, basically it means they've dropped the difficulty low enough that a good number of students are not being challenged, and are thus all getting perfect scores. It's like saying you have a perfect batting average, in tee-ball. It means nothing. If you have 11 students one year, and 25 the next, well you better start making the classes harder or you're wasting everyone's time.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Aaron

      So true Jay. The academic program is not challenging at all. It needs to step it up.

      May 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Michael

      A cursory search finds that Vanguard High School in Ocala Florida has 300+ in the senior class, 1500+ students total, almost half of which are economically disadvantaged and 1/3 of which are ethnic minority. This school tests above both the district and the state on math and reading and is considered a Gold medal school by US News and World Reports. It's 23rd in the state and #358 in the nation.

      This should be what other schools aspire to achieve and then we should move up from there instead of bashing this school as being bad in some way.

      May 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
      • PrincessBride

        And that is exactly the type of information the reporter SHOULD have included in this article. Another important fact is that 25% of the students are in an IB program. My guess would be the crowding at the top is the IB students and there needs to be some evaluation of the scoring system. One thing to note is that many academically challenging schools no longer report class rank to colleges, as too much emphasis was placed on being in the top 10, when being in the top 10 is relative based on the school's curriculum and composition, but people focused only on the number and didn't look at the accomplishment.

        May 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  44. larry5

    If this is all true, do the teachers get an end of the year bonus? This kind of performance must have something to do with teachers that do a much better than average job.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  45. Matt

    My high school stopped doing valedictorians some time ago for a kind of sad reason: a pretty mundane tradition turned nasty. Ultimately, there would be two students with identical GPAs, and it would quickly devolve into an administrator-parent-lawyer fight involving academic and attendance records going back to Kindergarten. My high school was quite large, and with 400+ students in the graduating class, there were bound to be at least two students with perfect high-school GPAs.

    Plus, some students and parents would focus entire high-school careers on nothing but maximizing GPA. Since only "core" (English/Math/SS/Science) courses are available in Honors or AP with a 5-point A, a student is required to take non-core classes to graduate–such as the arts. Some students wind up taking the bare minimum number of non-core classes possible for the sole reason that a 4-point A is detrimental to a GPA over 4.

    I was in my high school's band and technology club for four years, and that was a total of sixteen semester As that "only" counted as 4 points instead of 5. While I was nowhere near valedictorian material, choosing to do these sorts of extra-curricular activities in high school would have cost me valedictorian, as I would have a 4.71, while the valedictorian would have a 4.86 due to their deliberate GPA maximization. It would be like picking your career path based solely on what has the highest average salary–you'd have lots of people in law and med school who didn't really enjoy their work.

    Also, what does "valedictorian" give you beyond getting to give a speech at the graduation ceremony? I forget which one it was, but it was pointed out that a very prestigious private university will receive more applicants from valedictorians than they have admission spots. In other words, they could fill an entire freshman class with nothing but valedictorians–but they choose not to.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Claxton

      Matt, this is one of the reasons why I believe neither valedictorians nor salutatorians should automatically be granted the right to give a speech at commencement. Even if they're your best students, they may not be your best speakers. I do like what the school is doing here, having an audition, as it were, to determine who among the 25 valedictorians will give the speech. I'd like it even better if they opened it up to the entire senior class. Who knows, the class might have the next Dave Chappelle or Tina Fey in it.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  46. PVille

    This school's system is retarded.... Do they not use a weighted GPA system based on percentages and weight of class? For example in my school to get a 5.0 you need to get a 100% in 4 years of only AP classes... A 99% is roughly 4.94 then you multiply that by the number of credits the class is, and add the total of all your classes, usually 7, and divide by the number of credits... This grading scale is totally arbitrary... if an A is 90% to a 100%, than a student with straight 90's has the same GPA as a student with straight 100's....

    May 16, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Aeromechanic

      It's Florida.........everything is different in Florida.

      May 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  47. mikebo

    How can this be bad?Congrats to all.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Aeromechanic

      It's bad because it is making it not mean anything.

      In the Special olympics everyone gets a trophy. Understand now?

      May 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  48. hangar13

    A responsible, informative article (that is, one written by a legitimate journalist) would state the size of the graduating class. Were there 25 valedictorians out of 40 seniors? Or 4,000? The story is meaningless without that key fact included. You would expect – oh yeah, what was I thinking, this is CNN!

    May 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  49. jmissal

    Wait until these kids all compete for a SINGLE job; there will only be one person getting it.

    School for me was a time for me to learn that you had to work your tail off to get number one. These kids aren't learning that.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  50. corno

    VHS is an IB school. It is a tough program with a great reputation. Those kids earned their 5.0s.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Bluemax

      Wow. If this is a IB school then those kids really worked hard. My kids are in an IB school and I see the work they have to put in to get, what they call, "good grades", and they, like many in their class, get better than "just" "good".

      May 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • JP

      What is a 5.0?

      May 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
      • iammeyouareyou

        Wasn't that Microsoft's Office version from 2003?

        May 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  51. Glenn

    i guess this is a result of lowering the standards in education. This is how interpret this story

    May 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Jim

      Well, Glenn... I can see they were not that high when you was getting your education as well.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  52. Rightster

    Are they all Honor Students, too?

    May 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • APE

      More grade inflation and handouts. I went to school where your average was based on real test score numbers not a letter system. That is far superior than the wide-ranging "A"s.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  53. LKT

    I believe these kids all earned it. Lived/worked in a national laboratory town. They regularly had 20 – 30 valedictorians and/or presidential scholarship winners every year, even though each class rarely had more than 200 students. But remember, most of their parents had at least 1, if not both, with a PhD. Is it a case of Nature, Nurture, or Both?

    May 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  54. PrincessBride

    My son has earned nothing less than an "A" during his three years of middle school. I can't wait to get him out of there and into a rigorous college prep high school! While others may say that's impressive, I say it's a sign of a student who is coasting and at risk of trouble because he is bored. When I asked his teachers if he was challenged, the response was "of course, look at his grades". I disagree – I see it as a sign of a kid who is not being nudged to reach his potential, and wonder if the same problem may be occurring here. If that many students can achieve perfect scores, then is the curriculum truly challenging? Or is the school simply rewarding kids for showing up? I'd like to see how these kids score on national AP tests, what colleges they get into, and what their success record is once they go to college. It may be this is a pocket of extremely high-achieving students. But it may not....

    May 16, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • JEM

      If you love your children, put them in a private school.
      Public schools are little more than prisons.
      Google "Dropout Factory" or "Ball Tapping".

      May 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
      • gbreault

        You mean the same private schools with no state education requirements to follow, no education board to answer to and who have far lower standards for potential teachers?

        You realize most private school teachers are the ones who couldnt get a public job, right? Otherwise, they would be at a public school making more $$ and having gov't pension to retire on.

        May 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
      • Eugene

        The real world is full of people who are hateful for no reason and will do harm without a second thought. Public school prepares kids for that WAY better than a private school

        May 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
      • Stones

        Not everyone can afford a private school and they aren't all great schools. Public schools have to take all kids unlike private schools who can pick and choose then kick out the ones they don't want. It's not the kids' money, it's the parents.

        May 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
      • Nick

        not all public schools are bad. sure my schools nick name is "Ikeatraz" but that doesnt mean anything 😛

        May 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • Nick

        also.....private school doesnt guarantee they will do may help....or it might just be a waste of money.

        May 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
      • PVille

        I disagree entirely, I go to public high school and there are plenty of opportunities there, and fantastic teachers, though this may not be the case in some public schools, I understand that. I say if you're a parent and you love your kid, teach them to work hard so they can succeed anywhere. Public or Private school.

        May 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
      • G mat

        I have a large number of relatives and can say those attending private schools are out earning those who attended public schools. I also have seen a much higher level of confidence and respect in there personal lives. Public schools and private schools alike main goal is to produce compliant tax paying individuals. Families raise children not schools,the efforts of these young adults is undeniable. Private schools produce more upper level tax payees than public schools. Public schools clearly produce more tax payers. Public schools are for people you see daily postal jobs, store managers, and teachers. Private schools are for lawyers, military officers, judges, and others who have legitimate control over our everyday lives.

        May 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • JEM

      Everybody gets straight A's in special ed.
      At this school, everybody is special.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Hugo

      The article didn't say the scores were perfect. It said they received A's in advanced classes.

      I have a lot of college A's, mostly in math, computer science and natural science. Only in 2 classes, one math class and one computer science class, did I have a perfect score behind the A. In other classes, I didn't get perfect scores but I still received an A. 95% is not a perfect score but it usually an A. If there are no A-/B+ grades, 90.0% can be an A.

      I knew one student far better than I. He did get straight A's. It also took him only 2 years (including 3 summers) to finish college. During his senior year, he also took on a part time job working for a well known defense contractor.

      There may be more to your child's case, but as you've stated it I don't see cause for alarm. (Perhaps you have more information which you didn't share.)

      May 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Maya

      You're right. The same thing happened to me when I was his age. I started skipping school because I was bored to death with the work and because most of the kids treated me like **** for being different. Instead of giving me more challenging work or letting me skip a grade because I wasn't being challenged, the school decided to lock me in special education and throw away the key because I was truant (it is not all that uncommon for public schools to use special education as a dumping ground for kids the don't want to deal with anymore) and they figured that I had a "behavioral problem." Well, the even greater boredom with the academic work given to me there (which was nothing more than busy work, the school was really little more than a daycare) and the contempt I had for the people around me caused me to have actual behavioral problems. Of course, the faculty figured that it had to be ME and not the environment. After all, once a kid goes to special education, he or she is almost invariably slapped with that label until he or she graduates or drops out of school. My parents didn't care enough to demand that I be taken out of special education and given challenging work, so I ended up dropping out at 16. I got a GED, which kept me from going to any decent colleges. I'm in grad school now, but if that hadn't happened, I could have gone to an Ivy League school and earned some real credentials, which would have made me worth something in the job market. The long and short of it is this: don't let this or anything like it happen to your child. Public school administration cares more about keeping things running smoothly and keeping their jobs as easy as possible than the success and personal fulfillment of the students. They don't give a **** about what the students think or want, so it is up to you as the parent to do everything you can to ensure that your child isn't ignored for the sake of their convenience.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
      • Harlon Katz

        Mays – the message to parents would also be to teach the kids that _sometimes_ they just have to get with the program, whether they like it or not. What you "could have" done is irrelevant – it is what you CHOSE to do and what your parents let you do. Part of growing up is learning that you cannot be a petulant child.

        May 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Guest

      Wow, I feel bad for your kid. You should be proud of his accomplishments. You will destroy him emotionally if nothing he does is ever good enough for your standards. Yes he is being challenged and working hard. If he were bored he wouldn't have all A's because boredom will cause him to not want to do his school work and completing assignments is a large part of the grades. This article said these kids were in college- level courses. If you feel your son's school is handing out easy A's then you should take a look at the course work and his completed assignments and compare them to national standards.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • PrincessBride

        Harsh words, Guest. I am proud of my son. But I also see that my son scores at the 98th percentile on national exams. He is capable of doing more accelerated work than his middle school gives him. On his own, he reads much more challenging books than the teachers assign in his classes. He gets straight A's but almost never has homework, rarely has to study. He is always finishing his work early in class and asking his teachers for more work to do so he can be busy, as he does not like to sit idle. Unfortunately the middle school he is is does not have any "fast track" for advanced students, and also 75-80% of students in this school are on the honor roll, which to me signals grade inflation as a problem. I look forward to him going to a college prep high school where he will be challenged. I would rather see him stretching and earning a "B" or maybe even the occasional "C" than earning straight "A"s and having to beg for extra work to keep from being bored. We thought about skipping him a grade, but there are downsides to that as well.

        May 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  55. Sawtooth

    I'm curious as to the "demographics" of the student body.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Michael

      May 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  56. John

    It hasn't been that long ago that I graudated high school / college, I seem to remember that valedictorian was the one with the highest score average on final exams. In the event of GPA (crap system) being the same. The odds of 25 getting the same average number score on all final exams is pretty low. just my 2

    May 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  57. truebob

    What this really means is that they are not challenging the students. Unless they had 2500 seniors they need to step up the course level. It's easy to cater to the middle and say "look how great everyone is doing but the truth is most of these "valedectorians" probably snoozed through school.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  58. Katie

    Good for them!!! I'm pretty darn tired of the school's chosen two getting ALL the scholarships and free rides when the top twenty-five are really equal academically. For years our local high school ranked solely on GPA, not weighted GPA. In other words, kids who never took an AP class could get the top spot despite the fact that other kids loaded up on AP classes but ended with a B in one of those classes and therefore didn't have a 4.0 GPA. Ridiculous!! My son went to a high school where no one was ranked – this school routinely sends kids to MIT, the Ivies, and other top colleges. You don't need a rank to get there, and it's time to stop giving all the perks to the selected valedictorian.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Envix

      +1 to this- my class in 07' had 8 valedictorians (anyone with all A's regardless of difficulty), and I think it was great in the sense that there weren't 1 or 2 kids receiving special privileges when there were ~20 high performing students at that level. Grade inflation is bad, but devaluing valedictorians is a good thing!

      May 18, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  59. tommielee

    Indians are a subset of Asians; to equate Indians to Asians in a sentence suggests a lack of understanding in hierarchy of classes – a basic grammatical error. Furthermore, jdoe’s connotation seems to demean and minimize the academic achievement and hard work by Asian students, including the Indian students, a subtle form of bigotry..

    May 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jim

      Bam.... pwnd

      May 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • MG

      If anything it's demeaning to the non-Asian students.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  60. matt meachen

    what is your point? Less than 3% of the states population is Asian or Indian, FYI.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  61. me

    Nothing new here..our nearest high schools routinely graduate 25-40 valedictorians each year – makes little sense. How about still choosing one valedictorian and one salutatorian each year?

    May 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  62. calijim

    so? aren't we aALL americans?

    May 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  63. kirstenquigley

    Uhhh- has anyone been to Ocala? As a Floridian, it doesn't strike me as a hotbed of academia. I can't help but wonder if the real reason for this is simply grade inflation.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Ray

      Not sure what "hotbed of academia" means, but even a backwater can have a good school.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • markinfl

      It is apparently an IB program. They follow a standard that is truly international. The curriculum is quite challenging.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  64. KCRick

    Everyone gets a trophy!

    May 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  65. Eric

    Unless the grading system has changed since when I went to high school, how can 25 students get a 5.0, or how can anyone get a 5.0? If I remember correctly, GPA was calculated from all the grades you had for 4 years and you would get an extra point for an honors of AP class. Wouldn't that mean that EVERY class they took throughout their entire 4 years was "college level" like an AP class or Honors? Did they take Honors PE? Does that even exist?

    May 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Sherrie

      Eric- that was my first thought too. At my school the only classes you got extra points for were true AP classes. Honors and advanced classes didn't count for any extra points. There was no way for anyone to make a 5.0 even if you took everything that was offered. My boyfriend's school in the next city over gave extra points for all Honors and advanced classes and for students taking a class earlier than average- ie if most 9th graders take Algebra 2 and you were in Trig you got extra points. My school based all our honors on our numerical grade average. Even with a 97 and as an AP Scholar I was still 12th when it all fell down. There were a few kids above me that graduated with higher grade averages that never took an honors or advanced class and neither our valedictorian or salutatorian took all the honors/ AP classes offered.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • matt meachen

      I teach AP classes. It means that they got straight A grades and took a total of 10 AP/Honors classes throughout high school. Each one tacks an additional point ON TOP of the averaged, weighted GPA

      May 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Harlon Katz

      I was thinking the same thing, the story just doesn't pass the smell test mathematically. "Maybe" the author meant to say that the "Valedictorians" at the school were any students with a 4.0 (+) GPA which was easier to accomplish by students that were taking classes that could earn up to 5.0 points.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  66. RRP

    AMAZING! Literaully makes me want to sell the house and pack up the family and move to OCALA!...Great work VANGAURD! GREAT WORK.... Excellent work kiddos.... wish you all lots of success....

    May 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  67. jfk1971

    This is pure and base socialism. Within a few years the entire graduating class will be deemed valedictorians.

    People, wake up. If you think this is a joke it's not. There is a slow creep of socialism overtaking this country and if it is not checked you will one day find your children and grandchildren living in a very different America, one that resembles western Europe and formerly communist Eastern Europe.

    May 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • JuneleaversBeaver

      This doesn't sound strange at all. Between grade inflation and the everyone gets a trophy society we live in thi is what we get. Your assessment is 100% correct.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • calijim

      if i didn't know any better, i would think that the entirenation has gone "socialism paranoid". as one who lived under communist rule in berkeley, ca for so many years i can say that the people of the country are safe with a little socialism if it ever comes to that. what's wrong with share and share alike?
      how socialism or social darwinism fits into the great work of these hard working students is really off-base, my friend.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Katie

      ALL public schools are socialist, duh. As are ALL municipalities with their government-driven police, fire department, human services, etc.

      Grow up and learn what socialism really is and what it does for you (a Socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance so public schools could indoctrinate children into Socialism – betcha didn't know that!) and then read up on Communism and see the differences.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Sandra S.

      I think you need to look up the word "Socialism" in the dictionary - you clearly have no idea what it actually means.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • matt meachen

      As an AP teacher, I agree that grdes and awards are inflated. However, AP classes (which account in part for this phenomenon) are non-negotiable college level courses that get audited. If anything, our obsession with achievement and winning is uber-capitalist. Socialism and communism reward mediocrity- not straight-A grades. This is why the US has 18 of the worlds top 25 universities, and Russia has none. I believe China has 1?

      . This hardly resembles socialism and actually contradicts Karl Marx. I agree with your assessment that we delve out awards too freely, but liking it to economic systems is fundamentally flawed.

      May 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  68. angierae75

    I graduated from high school 19 years ago, and we also had multiple valedictorians. This isn't anything new, or a new babied generation. When you have 10 kids with identical GPAs and who have all been active in extra-curricular stuff and whatnot, how do you choose? They also all wrote a speech, and the "best" one was picked (not the one I would have picked, but I was a 17 year old kid, what did I know?)

    May 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  69. DPCFOH

    @Mike F All 25 of the kids EARNED those grades, they weren't just given to them. Did you read the story, or just the headline?

    May 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Jim

      It's impossible to tell from the story whether the students earned the grades or were given them.

      May 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  70. Mike F

    Of course – this is the same generation who always received sports trophys no matter what place they came in. We don't want to hurt their fragile egos by telling them the truth. Instead, let's cheat the real winner out of his trophy.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • DPCFOH

      If 25 kids all earned the same grades and had a perfect 5.0 GPA, who's the "real winner"?

      May 16, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
      • alys

        The real winners are those of us near retirement, glad that some of the younger generation is willing to work hard and strive for excellence. With these kids someday to enter the workforce, maybe Social Security will still be around, funded by there work ethic.

        May 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  71. sielingfan

    First! But if you're reading this article in the same hour, up to 25 of us can share the "First" moment. Please reply.

    May 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm |