Image via WikipediaMy high school had some... issues. Oh, no one shot up the halls or anything. More like a disorganized lack of consistency.
For starters, they changed how class ranking was calculated halfway through my Senior year. Now, the system they changed it to made sense, but it would have been nice if they'd grandfathered current students in -- or at least warned us prior to the last semester we were there.
My overall ranking was #1 in the class before the recalculation. It dropped to #3 after -- nothing to sneeze at, to be sure, but let's be honest. Colleges don't care that you're #3. They don't brag about #3 in their brochures. And as a result, they're not going to be throwing money at #3 to come to their schools.
(To be fair, this wasn't really a danger for me. In addition to my rank and the GPA that came with it, I had a high SAT score and a metric buttload of extracurriculars.)
But the positions of valedictorian and salutatorian were not based strictly on class rankings. Anyone who was eligible -- a certain class rank and/or GPA and/or grade in English class and/or recommended by a teacher -- could submit a speech for evaluation. If a speech was accepted for the next round, the student would get it back with some edits and be invited to audition in front of a panel.
My valedictory speech was, admittedly, not amazing, but my salutatory speech turned out very well. I broke down the lyrics to our alma mater and outlined how they paralleled our high school experience. It was part English essay, part sermon, and more than a little idealistic (far more so than my actual high school experience!), but it was good, and the judges thought so, too. I was named salutatorian.My peers made no effort to be subtle: I could quite clearly hear their whispers that J should have been named salutatorian, but at least A got to be valedictorian like she deserved (A was ranked #1 in the class after the recalculation, and A and J had been my main competition from the beginning).
I took chorus as a full-credit class all four years of high school -- I was one of the first students (at least since the school was consolidated) to do so. One of my classmates was also taking AP Music Theory, and one of her projects was to compose an arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner. She and several of her friends were then chosen to sing at graduation. They were not picked based on voice part -- it wasn't like they chose first soprano, second soprano, first alto, and second alto. They were not auditioned. And it was not a matter of choosing all Senior choir members, or all Senior chorus students. I honestly don't know why the teacher allowed it, but I do know if there had been an audition, I would have been notified.
I may have concluded incorrectly, but A was one of the girls who was included. A, who deserved her speaking role far more than I did, according to the other girls chosen to sing. Interesting.
Well, never mind. Come graduation, my speech was met with receptive silence, and hers with restless whispers.