by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
February 21, 2003
WITH EDUCATION, EVERYONE'S A WINNER!
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Cue the dueling banjos, it's the Battle Of The Valedictorians again!
Regular readers of this column will recall the recent story of Brian Delekta, the Michigan student who sued his school district to keep his GPA up so he could be the school valedictorian. He filed a restraining order to prevent the class rankings from being released, because he was afraid he would plummet to number two on the list (his restraining order was overturned, and it turns out he did drop).
Now it's happening in Hull, Massachusetts, only this time we've got dueling valedictorians.
In a recent story in the Boston Globe, two Hull High School students are arguing over who should be the top-ranked student of their class.
Sharisse Kanet says she should be the class valedictorian because she was the top-ranked student when she completed her graduation requirements in June 2002, even though she won't graduate until June 2003.
And because Kanet completed her requirements, she is now attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut -- with the full support of her parents and school officials -- during what would be her senior year.
Meanwhile, Joanna Frazier started her senior year as the second-ranked student, but her parents argued that she should be crowned Number One, because Kanet isn't even enrolled at Hull.
Understandably, Kanet is a little worried because last week the school committee created a new rule that said students must spend at least six semesters at Hull, including the two semesters of their senior year, to qualify for valedictorian.
The committee will take a final vote on the rule on March 10, and if they approve the new measure, Frazier will become the new valedictorian of Hull High School, and rule the Chess Club with an iron fist.
Kanet told the Boston Globe that school officials told her she'd be able to graduate in June, and that her college courses would count toward her class rank. She said they then rubbed their hands together and laughed evilly.
Actually, what she said was, "They basically told me all along that everything was fine, and I could go to school and graduate this year and nothing else would come of it."
So in order to avert this catastrophe, Kanet is suing the school district to prevent Hull High School from naming any valedictorian until the matter is resolved.
"We're not trying to take it was away from Joanna," Kanet's mother, Rhoda, told The Boston Globe. "We just don't want it to be taken away from Sharisse."
Translation: "We're trying to take it away from Joanna."
There was no mention about how the matter would be resolved, although I'm hoping for either swords at dawn, or a Britney Spears/Justin Timberlake style dance-off. Or both.
Translation: "How about Britney and Justin battle it out with swords?"
Personally, I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Maybe it's because in my own high school class, I had as much chance of being valedictorian as Oral Roberts and Bill Clinton have of being roommates. So I have to wonder, why is it so important to be the valedictorian?
I know it's important to the student in question, because it helps them get into a good college. But Rhoda says the honor is very important, even if her daughter is already in college.
"It's a forever designation," she said.
Translation: "Everyone will have forgotten by July."
How can being the valedictorian be a forever designation? I couldn't even tell you who our high school valedictorian was when I graduated 17 years ago. Truth be told, I couldn't even have told you during the graduation ceremony, so I really don't think it matters.
Is Kanet going to introduce herself to people, "Hi, I'm Sharisse Kanet, 2003 Hull High School Valedictorian?" Does she get to wear a sash and tiara at special events? Or will she pretty much quit caring when she turns 19?
But Peter Frazier, Joanna's father, isn't going to let this rest. He completely rejects the idea of co-valedictorians -- something Hull's superintendent suggested -- and said the top spot should go to a student who was enrolled at the high school for their senior year.
"It is not a personal issue. This is strictly a policy issue." Frazier said.
Translation: "It's a personal issue."
So what's the right thing to do? Should the school committee decide in Kanet's favor, or in Frazier's? Should they allow co-valedictorians, or should they follow other school districts' examples, and not declare a valedictorian? In the grand scheme of things, does it really even matter?
Translation: "No one gives a rat's patootie."