Friday, May 19, 2006

School's valedictorian never attended a class

Amy Rouinfar has a 4.7 grade point average making her the valedictorian for Eustis High School.

Problem is, she never attended a class at Eustis High School.

Florida has a dual-enrollment program that allows high school students to earn college credits while in high school. The program pays for the students' college tuition and books.

Rouinfar went to Mount Dora Christian Bible School before she decided to enroll in Florida's dual-enrollment program. Since she was no longer attending classes at the private school, she was asked to leave. At that point, Rouinfar enrolled at Eustis High School.

Rouinfar said the private school asked her to leave because she didn't attend any classes there, so she enrolled at Eustis High while she continued to take courses at Lake-Sumter Community College.

Last week the administrators of Eustis High School announced that Rouinfar would be the valedictorian. The student body at the school quickly went from "Who?" to "I don't think so!"

The seniors at Eustis High started a petition to exclude Rouinfar from graduation ceremonies. In the end, the school administration decided that the salutatorian, Alex Brown, would be the only one of the two to address the school at graduation.

The problem isn't that Rouinfar had the highest grade point average and is now the valedictorian. The problem is that Rouinfar has never attended Eustis High.

Eustis High is not a large high school. There are only 300 students in its graduating class. I know that there are smaller high schools in Florida (I have a cousin that graduated with a class of 50), but there are many that are much larger.

Most of the 300 students graduating from Eustis High School have been going to school together since kindergarten. Chantel Lindsey, a cheerleader and a National Honor Society member, complained that Rouinfar, who has not grown up with the other students, would not be able to "capture a lifetime of memories in a speech to strangers."

This is actually not an isolated incident. The battle for bragging rights to the title "valedictorian" can be pretty nasty.

It can even involve the courts.

It 2003, a student sued a New Jersey school board to be the sole valedictorian at her high school. She won her lawsuit.

Many schools have decided to change their practice to end the academic bickering over what can amount to only a hundredth of a point. At least one high school uses the cum laude system that you find in colleges. Winter Park High School, in Orange County, gives the valedictorian title to anyone with at least a 4.0 grade point average.

The administration at Eustis High School is changing its policy to make it mandatory that a student has attended classes at Eustis High in order to be named valedictorian.

Personally, I don't blame the students for being upset. If I were a senior in high school I wouldn't want to have someone who had never attended any classes give a valedictorian speech. How can someone talk about cheering on the school's football team if they've never been to a game? How can they thank the teachers for inspiring them and guiding them if they've never meet any of the teachers? How can someone give a speech about what it was like to attend a school they never attended?

The school made the right decision in giving the graduation speech to the salutatorian. He'll be able to talk about all the things that Rouinfar never experienced.

According to Rouinfar

They can never take the title away from me. My class rank will always be No. 1.

Maybe it's just me, but being "No. 1" at a school I never attended is a fairly hollow accomplishment in my eyes. Rouinfar should look, instead, to the accomplishments she made at Lake-Sumter Community College.

While at Lake-Sumter, Rouinfar earned a leadership award and was named Chemistry Student of the Year. She should hold tightly to those accomplishments and have more pride in them. Rouinfar managed to achieve those accomplishments against students that had completed high school. That's much more impressive than being valedictorian at a school she never attended.

Cross posted at Can't Keep Quiet!


At January 29, 2008 9:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. If she had the highest GPA she is the valedictorian.

If she was the only one smart enough in that class of 300 to realize she was better served taking college courses accelerating her college career she should be rewarded, not punished for her efficiency and productivity. Whether she attended the high school is irrelevant, the title goes to the highest GPA. Its not a "feel-good" award, it's a numerical one. I support this girl. She is the valedictorian and she deserves to be able to make her speech, not anybody else.

At June 06, 2008 3:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree, Her being enrolled at the high School was a matter of convienience not academics! She participated in a private school, for reasons we have not seen like her family wanted to keep her out of public school, or many other possibilities. The fact that she earned her scholarly accolades at the college not the High school means that she should be recognized at the college not the high school. The true School Valedictorian should never be pushed aside due to a technicality or a personal decision caused be parental pressure. I say go back to college and celebrate there, leave the school title to the person how really earned it by attending the school and dealing with all the things one has to deal with during their years there, rather than being pampered at private school where high GPA's are based more on income than academics, then going to the head of the class simply using unvalidated transcrpts from God knows where!

At November 22, 2008 4:55 PM , Anonymous Lauren said...

I guess it all depends on what you value in an education, doesn't it? If you're at school for the social experience, then sure, bravo. Have a cookie; you survived gym class.

The point is, everyone in our county has the same opportunity that Amy did. Anyone who can score well enough on a placement exam can do early admission at LSCC. Tuition and text books are paid for if you're enrolled in a public high school, so it's not even limited by household income.

But you're right. Obviously private school students are pampered. Never mind the fact that Christian Home and Bible School (the actual name; you probably should have double-checked on that) has a staggering 90% of its students move on to college, when Eustis High School's students can barely read by sophomore year (52.3% reading proficiency).

Maybe if you'd looked into the name a little further you'd realize it's called "Christian Home" and Bible School because it also offers a home and an education to underprivileged children. These kids take standardized tests right alongside their fellow students, and somehow CH&BS still scores higher academically than the local public schools.

I'm going to go out on a ledge here and say that Amy was probably enrolled in private school because of its reputation for superior academics. I don't think that's too hard to put together, considering the point of discussion here is a kid who's being punished for academic "overachievement."

Why don't we face the facts? Kids graduating from high school aren't kids. They're adults. Why mollycoddle them? Amy's grades were higher, her GPA was higher, she was the valedictorian. She gave up her right to make a speech at commencement, which I think was rather gracious of her. Why should we instill rules to protect some students' precious feelings? Grow up, people. It's a sad day in the world when our school system is no longer invested in supporting students' desires to learn more and do better.

How dare you, Amy. Exceeding expectations like that. Why weren't you at the football game?

At February 06, 2011 2:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i go to the school that this girl "who never attend" the other girl is involved in a lot of the school clubs!


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