The top student in a high school’s graduating class used to earn the honor of being the valedictorian, and traditionally that one student delivered a commencement speech that helped send his or her classmates out into the adult world.
But at Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School this year, there were 117 valedictorians out of a class of 457.[…]
Jim Bock, vice president and dean of admissions at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, recalled an applicant whose Midwestern high school reported that every student finished in the top half of the class. He worries that allowing several students to share a top rank diminishes the achievement of a student who otherwise would have been alone in the top spot.