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The Student News Site of Arcata High School

The Pepperbox

The Pepperbox

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Is being valedictorian even a big deal?

There seems to be a close running between some of the most distinguished academic students who will seize the coveted title. But who and what determines who gets to be valedictorian? 

The pressure is on for many seniors as they begin their countdown to graduation. Amid college applications, student financial aid applications, and wondering where to go to college, seniors also face another question: who will end up as class valedictorian? 

There seems to be a close running between some of the most distinguished academic students who will seize the coveted title. But who and what determines who gets to be valedictorian? 

The current front-runner, and the expected valedictorian, is ASB president Melanie Luh. Since Freshman year, Luh has been a very impressive student. On top of her perfect grades, Luh has taken quite a leadership role in school affairs, leading the class of 2024 as junior class president and leading the entire student body as ASB president. Luh also participates in several extracurriculars, helping to lead the Girl’s Volleyball and the Girl’s Basketball teams. However, while she wouldn’t exactly turn down the valedictorian title, it isn’t that big of a deal to her. 

“Yeah, it’d be pretty cool. I don’t know. I don’t think I’d let it define me, like I wouldn’t be hanging on to it for a super long time,” Luh said. However, she does appreciate the importance of the title. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal until people started telling me it was. I do care about getting valedictorian, but not as much as people think.”

On the other hand, some seniors think being valedictorian isn’t desirable at all. 

Senior Emma Martin, also in the running for valedictorian at class rank number 3, has maintained perfect grades throughout high school, as well as several extracurriculars such as the swim team, the cross country team, and the track team. However, unlike Luh, Martin would rather not be valedictorian. 

“I really don’t want to give a speech at graduation. I feel like it would look good to colleges, that’s the only benefit of being valedictorian,” Martin said. “I hope Melanie wins it.”

The senior class this year is notorious for being very competitive academically. Many seniors this year have perfect grades, as well as many extracurriculars that look great on college applications. What is actually considered when figuring out valedictorian? 

“The weighted GPA of a student is what determines a valedictorian. Extracurriculars don’t factor into it at all,” academic counselor Anna Frary said.

 Contrary to popular belief, being valedictorian isn’t as helpful to college applications as one might think. 

“I think schools are generally looking for more than just your academics,” Frary said. “Schools that are looking at academics, like a CSU for example, are looking at GPA rather than class ranking.” 

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About the Contributor
Henry Lee
Henry Lee, Opinion Editor
Henry Lee is an avid reader, writer, camper, and sometimes even a good student. He loves Humboldt County, where he lives, and his interest in local business and culture lead him to write about current happenings and events around town. He has been a finalist in the Redwood Writing Contest twice and co-founded an amateur newspaper in middle school. You can reach him by email.
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