Sunday, June 5, 2011

Who Is Valedictorian?

Your odds are better at being one of Ashland High School's valedictorians if you're female, from a two-parent family, and have worked hard enough for 12 years to want to take a year off.

AHS, which consistently ranks in the top 3% of US News & World Report's "Best High Schools," has a legendary Speech & Debate Team, an honorable Math Team, a Quidditch Club, a Gay-Straight Alliance, Knit Wits, Model United Nations, Multicultural Club, Pagan Club, and Crew. Every year, the Drama Department partners up with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to produce, direct, costume, and choreograph a professional-level musical. (This year's performance of "Chicago" rivaled the production I'd seen on Broadway of Sacramento.)

According to the Medford Mail Tribune, of AHS' 14 Class of 2011 valedictorians, 12 are female. Eight of 12 are listed with parents of the same last name. Many scholars are in Honor Society, have math honors, played soccer, are musicians.

And several are planning on taking advantage of the new trend; they'll take a "Gap Year" of travel or volunteer service, or dabble in the arts before heading back to the books at Stanford, NYU, Pomona, or George Washington to study neuroscience, physics, engineering, or journalism.

I know some of their parents: professors, doctors, authors, entrepreneurs.

This morning at breakfast, Dave and I sat by an AHS grad from a few years ago. She went to Harvard for a year, and returned to work at an Ashland coffee shop.

A simple, quiet girl from my own high school in California went to Berkeley and is now the headmaster of a private school in Marin County.

You never can tell, I guess, who will succeed, and at what. Part of the fun mystery of life is the element of surprise.

Maybe it will be an AHS 2011 valedictorian who cures AIDS, or maybe it will be the kid who sat in science in the middle row, who graduated 60th in a class of 200, who went to community college first.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Jennie. It is so true that we NEVER know which kids will turn out to be the movers and shakers of tomorrow, and which will be every day citizens.

Kjersten said...

Thanks for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Jennie.

Student success is often defined in such grandiose terms, perhaps to the detriment of both the best of students and to the most average.

Who knows the quiet dreams of the outwardly successful young student? Many fade from the spotlight. But the spotlight isn't always cast where a dream and the ambitions of one's heart may go.

On the other hand, who knows what talents and passions have been overlooked in a non-stellar student amidst a sea of requirements and conventional expectations. Freedom from the norms of school can tap a passion, skill or dream long held dormant by conventional expectations.

I always enjoy reading your education posts. Thanks for your blog!

Jennie Englund said...

Carol and Kjersten, true, true words! Things to think about!

Jen Daiker said...

Now isn't that's what is fascinating in this world? The people you'll meet and the things you'll get to experience. You never know who is going to surprise you and in the end where they'll end up.

I never attended college but consider myself a great writer. I have a friend who attended 8 years of college for psychology and now works as a receptionist at her local church in a town of 250 people.