Graduating high school is a massive achievement, but some students take this even further having them graduate either valedictorian or salutatorian of their classes.
Students in every class are given the ranks in which they sit. Graduating valedictorian means being at the top of your class with the highest academic achievements. While the salutatorian is the person who ranks second in their class. These people are rewarded for their placement and can perform a speech at graduation.
Graduate of the class of 2016, valedictorian, Mikaela Boyanich talks about her journey to becoming valedictorian and where it has led her to now. “The hardest class I took in high school was AP physics because I’m not a visual person, so I struggled to figure out how to change the problems into pictures. I went to Temple University after high school and got a degree in chemistry. I then transferred to Virginia Tech to do a Ph.D. program in chemistry. Becoming valedictorian really doesn’t matter once you’re out of high school, you shouldn’t work yourself too hard.”
Salutatorian of the class of 2020, Isabella Messick states about her academic journey. “One thing that I have learned is what study methods are successful and if I don’t succeed, I have learned to change and adapt accordingly. The hardest classes I took in high school were anything that related to history/social studies. I am very science and math-oriented, so I always had to put more effort into studying for those classes. Right now, I currently am a freshman at the University of Georgia, and I am majoring in Animal Health, on a pre-vet track.”
Messick states, “One thing that my parents constantly reminded me was that one bad grade wouldn’t kill me. It may have hurt my grade at the time but, if I worked hard and continued to learn, I can always make up for it. I also tried to balance my academics with my social life which I think is super important, especially as you move on to college.”
Sara Fernandez, valedictorian of the class of 2018 says, “for students who are looking to become valedictorian now, I want you to know that your grades are not the only things that describe your worth. You can still get into all the colleges you want without having to be the very best!” Fernandez also says, “Valedictorian affected my future academic journey in that it helped me to not worry about college applications and college acceptance letters because I knew I had the capability to get into all the schools I wanted. Colleges also liked seeing that I was first in my class, so all the ones that I applied to offered me money to attend their school. Currently, I’m able to attend college without paying for my tuition or books.”
Fernandez states, “After I graduated high school, I worked at Dairy Queen over the summer and then that fall I attended the University of Maryland, College Park as a math major. Now, I’m in my junior year at UMD. I changed my major to public health science and I’m also minoring in Spanish. I have 2 semesters left once this academic year is over and I’m excited to graduate and get a paying job within the public health field, ideally one where I get to work with children. Currently, I have an internship at The Arc of Prince George’s County where I’ve been delivering programs to high school students with disabilities in order to help them find a job, teach them what it is like to go to college and teach them about other post-secondary education options.”