You Might Not Need The Best Grades To Be Valedictorian

You Might Not Need The Best Grades To Be Valedictorian

There is no perfect way to measure knowledge and academic ability, but criteria such as ACT scores are not the way to go.

Are you a fan of standardized testing? No, I didn't think so. Neither am I. That is why I am surprised to find out that my old high school will soon use ACT scores and other unusual criteria as significant factors in determining who receives the honors of valedictorian and salutatorian.

Before I begin, I want to clarify that I have not yet delved into the details as to why my high school is making these changes. I am simply writing about my reaction to what I read in the updated handbook after hearing talk about the new rules. There is no doubt that the changes have been made for important and logical reasons; I simply want to share my opinion on why I believe titles such as valedictorian and salutatorian should be based strictly on GPA, and why standardized tests like the ACT are not fair measurements of knowledge and ability. I am fully aware that the traditional practice of using GPA to determine these honors can be a controversial topic.For instance, it has led to some schools having graduation classes with dozens of valedictorians at the same time. Another worry is that awarding these titles based on GPA prevents a collaborative school environment because of intense competition. While these are valid concerns, they are surely not the norm in most high schools. From what I remember as a valedictorian myself, they are certainly not concerns in the high school that I attended. This leads to my next point. Titles such as valedictorian and salutatorian are considered academic honors. Therefore, they should continue to rely solely on high school academics. That is not possible when relying mainly on ACT scores instead of GPA. The knowledge and academic performance from nearly four years of high school cannot be adequately measured by a mere three-hour test.

Another component of my high school's new requirements is that contenders for the titles must be a member of the National Honor Society. This seems to stray away from the academic focus. While academic excellence is an important value of NHS, other focuses such as service and leadership should not be tied to the title of valedictorian. Do not get me wrong- I think that all of NHS's values are very important and I was an officer in it myself, but I see it as a very separate honor from being valedictorian.

I should clarify that the new policies at my high school still require valedictorians and salutatorians to have a high GPA. Students must receive Summa Cum Laude honors in order to be eligible contenders, which means they must earn a 4.0 GPA or higher (up to a 4.5 GPA can be earned with honors and AP classes). This helps ensure that simply guessing well on the ACT is not enough, but for close contenders, it still results in largely a game of luck.

My personal experience might help explain why that is so. I took the ACT several times throughout all years of high school. I rented books about it from the library, took a prep course through the school, and even had a few private tutoring sessions at the end of junior year as a desperate attempt to score high. My scores steadily improved overall, which is the logical outcome. If the ACT is so good at determining academic abilities, though, why was my score on the reading section highest during freshman year? Flukes like that are not unusual phenomena--there are even students whose overall ACT drops after taking it a second time.

My highest score was a 32, which is fairly decent, but it cost quite a bit of money to get there. Not everyone can afford to pay for the ACT more than once, let alone to pay for tutoring. With tutoring, my own score jumped an entire four points within just a few months. Did I learn 4 points worth of material during those months? No. I learned the tips and tricks of the game, combined with a bit (or a lot) of good luck. Titles such as valedictorian and salutatorian shouldn't depend on either of those two factors.

Studying for the ACT is important for college admissions, and that is stressful enough as it is. Making the test a part of achieving the highest academic honor in high school is unnecessary. It is more important to devote time and energy to classes and extracurriculars rather than memorizing material that is routinely on the ACT right before the test.

You might be wondering what happens if eligible students have tied ACT scores, especially in a school with a few hundred students per class. There is a backup plan set up for that, a backup plan for the backup plan, and so on. What these plans consist of, though, is not much different than the ACT itself.

If there are contending students tied with the highest ACT, the valedictorian and salutatorian are determined by points earned from state testing. This is similarly problematic to the ACT. If students are still tied, then GPA will finally be the deciding factor.

While I doubt there will still be a tie after this, there are more backups. One includes choosing the individual with the most service hours submitted for National Honors Society. Maybe it is just me, but it doesn't seem right to claim the title of high school valedictorian or salutatorian because you complete more service hours than your competitor.

There is no perfect way to measure knowledge and academic ability. There probably never will be. I am certain, though, that criteria such as ACT scores are not the way to get as close to perfect as possible.

Cover Image Credit: Petya McNeal

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Every Oklahoma Kid That Went To Falls Creek Growing Up Knows How True All Of These Things Are

If you didn't complain about all of the hills at least once, did you even go to Falls Creek?


Falls Creek: the best camp on Earth, don't @ me.

If you were a church-going kid in Oklahoma, or even just a kid in Oklahoma in general, you probably went to Falls Creek. We all have our own, unique memories that are individual to us, but there are some things that EVERYONE experienced.

First and foremost:


Samantha Wolf

Bunk beds are never very fun, but getting to bunk with your best friend was awesome. Packing all of your bedding for camp is quite another thing.

2. Professional Tabernacle Pics

Crystal Thorman

We all took them! We had a scheduled time to take camp pictures on the tabernacle steps in that year's theme shirt. (This year was my personal favorite)

3. Mini Mountain Climbing


Climbing all of the hills was a workout, we all had killer calves by the end of the week.

4. What Are Swimsuits?

We don't wear those. Of course there were always a few that would try to slide by this rule, but dark colored tees and shorts were the only acceptable swimwear. Don't worry about getting bad tan lines, because we all left with farmer's tans.

5. Icee Dates

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If you didn't go on an icee date at least once, did you even go to Falls Creek? While yes, you go to Falls Creek for church and to worship God with others your age, but meeting new people from all over was so much fun. Going on an icee date with your "Falls Creek boyfriend/girlfriend" was the best.

6. Blowing Your Parents Money In The Gift Shop Like They Told You Not To


We needed every nickel. Not because we truly needed it, but because we like knickknacks and stickers and tee shirts. $4 for a pencil, heck yea!

7. The 5k Run

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Whether you ran it or not, you knew about it because everyone wore their tee shirts the next day. It was a hard run with all the hills, but pretty fun!

8. Thursday = Cry Night

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By Thursday night, we are all feeling the Lord. Being in this type of atmosphere, it is very hard not to. I don't know what causes it, it is definitely a God thing, but most people really feel moved to God by Thursday or at least acknowledge any changes we may need to make in our lives. We all cry--tears of sadness, joy, shame, whatever it may be.

9. Water Slides

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All I can say is hold on to your bottoms and watch out for turtles!

10. Oceans

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"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior." These lyrics we all know, we all love, and will still sing at the tops of our lungs.

11. The ABC Tree

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ABC--Already Been Chewed. It's kinda gross but you have got to admit that it is still pretty cool.

12. Finding Your Group In The Tabernacle

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Having the coolest sign always called for bragging rights. My FBC Idabel crew had some pretty impressive signs, if I must say so myself.

13. This Guy

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Andy Harrison. He is there every year, gives a great message and makes a totally awesome French Simon.

14. Cabin Games

Samantha Wolf

Each cabin is different, but jello twister was definitely something you don't forget. Ping pong tournaments are also a must.

15. Volleyball is INTENSE

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If you didn't win, you weren't trying hard enough. Sand in the shorts, sun burns, and burnt feet on the hot ground--volleyball.

16. The Ropes Course

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I was a scaredy cat and would never try the ropes course, but if you did, kudos to you! It looks so fun and is one of the few activities you can do in the shade!

Is there Falls Creek for adults, no? But I wish! What are your favorite camp memories?

Cover Image Credit:

Crystal Thorman

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3 Ways to Save Money on parking

Whether you're in a big city or on a college campus, parking doesn't have to cost you a fortune.


When you're in college or you live in a big city, you know just how stressful parking your car can be. Either you spend a fortune on parking every day, or you spend an hour finding a free spot that may never even appear. Luckily, there's a few ways you can save money and time on parking so you don't have to stress so much any more.

1. There's an App for That


There are tons of apps for parking that will tell you where to find the most affordable parking lots and whether there are spots available. Most college campuses will have apps just for their parking garages that will tell you what percentage of spots are open so you'll know whether you can snag a spot. Using these apps will save you both money and time because you can see how much parking will cost you and whether it's worth looking for a free or cheaper spot.

2. Use Parking Coupons


If you're parking in an airport or a big city where you can't avoid paying for parking, you should check out google for parking coupons before spending your money. This may only save you a few dollars, but over time it can really make a difference and make parking a little bit more bearable. All you need to do is google the parking garage and type in coupons after the name and see if anything comes up. You'll be surprised by how much savings are out there.

3. Don't Rush


The most important way you can save money on parking is to allow yourself plenty of time to find free or affordable parking. If you're in a rush and you're trying to park during peak hours, you're either not going to find any parking spots or you'll drop a fortune. If you can avoid these peak hours by being ahead of schedule, you can save a ton of money on parking your car every day.

Parking on college campuses and in big cities doesn't have to mean you'll be breaking the bank. To save money, you need to be proactive and seek out free or discounting parking, and make sure you always have plenty of time to find good spots.

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