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Keep or abolish the valedictorian tradition?

In some ways, it seems that the valedictorian is a status designed for a simpler time, when fewer people aspired to college. It isn't entirely suited to a brutally competitive age in which the dividing line between those who go to college and those who don't may be the most significant fissure in American society, and in which the children (and parents) of the upper middle classes have been convinced that going to an exceedingly selective college is the only way to insure wealth and happiness.

Still, perhaps something is lost if schools eliminate valedictorians. Like spelling bees, the contest for valedictorian offers a pleasing image of a purer meritocracy, in which learning and performing by the rules leave one hardworking person standing. It seems sad to abolish the tradition--and faintly ridiculous to honor too large a group.

--Margaret Talbot, writing in the New Yorker

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Author:Talbot, Margaret
Publication:Curriculum Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
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