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!