It would be a major change to a longstanding tradition with graduation ceremonies, but believe it or not, there are some schools in the United States considering doing away with the practice.

Recently, a school district in Colorado announced that they were planning to end having valedictorian awards at its high schools. It's at the Cherry Creek School District in Arapahoe County and the change would take place with the class of 2026.

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So what is the reason for making the change?

Most of it is simply that faculty at this school district believe the tradition is no longer appropriate for their students.

"The practices of class rank and valedictorian status are outdated and inconsistent with what we know and believe of our students. We believe all students can learn at high levels, and learning is not a competition." - A letter from faculty to parents dated March 9, 2022. "Credit: FOX 31 Denver KDVR

The key word seems to be "competition". It sounds like they feel that if there's a "winner" at school, it could make students who struggle in their education feel even more isolated or hopeless. At least that's how it reads. They want every student to feel like they are on the same playing field.

And what, if anything, would replace it?

The school district in Colorado says instead of having the highest-ranking senior deliver the typical farewell address at a graduation ceremony, they would acknowledge academic achievements "through various other ways," including an honor roll, GPA honor cords at graduation, and department- and school-specific award ceremonies.

Would this affect the college enrollment process in any way?

The letter says the Cherry Creek School District first consulted some local schools, colleges and universities in other parts of Colorado to make sure their decision to eliminate the valedictorian distinction was not going to harm students in any way related to the admission processes.

A representative from at the University of Denver told the school district that there is "no concern with schools eliminating class rank or valedictorian recognition". They said the distinction is not factored in its admission process. In fact, it may surprise some people that plenty of colleges and universities stopped considering class rank years ago and not many high schools still report a class ranking.

A few of my own opinions on this

I certainly was never a valedictorian or even close to it in school. I had mostly average grades, but never felt like, or was made to think like, I was competing when it came to my education and grades. But everyone is different and I do remember fellow students who struggled. But I certainly don't think that by Graduation Day, anyone really cared anymore, right? How I "ranked" was literally the last thing on my mind during my entire time at school.

Some people might read this is and start thinking that this is another version of "everyone gets a trophy" or in this case "no one gets a trophy". I guess I have mixed feelings. I never feel like traditions should continue for the sake of tradition, but I've literally never thought of the practice of having a valedictorian being anything that negatively affecting me or anyone else. But I also believe if a decision like this had happened when I was in school, I would have probably shrugged it off and not really cared one way or the other.

It's an interesting move for sure. What would you think if this started happening at schools in Michigan?

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