An interesting thing happened Wednesday afternoon when I drove to Warren County High School to interview this year's valedictorians. There were only two of them.
My first thought was I had somehow gotten turned around and visited the wrong high school. Was I still in Warren County, the Valedictorian Capital of the World?
I say this after last year's fiasco, and I believe the word fiasco is appropriate, where WCHS had, get this, 20 valedictorians. That means there were 20 students who were No. 1 in their class. I still haven't figured that one out.
If you were looking at last year's top 10 percent, more than half of those students were valedictorians. It was like having an NFL season with 20 Super Bowl champs. It was like crowning 20 girls as Fairest of the Fair. Let's give everyone a lollipop.
Fortunately, Warren County school officials made a wise move and decided to abandon the system where nearly everybody gets a participation award, or in this case a valedictorian cap. The move has immediately restored respectability to the academic distinction.
This year the valedictorian crown is shared by Bella Smith and Bailey Barnes. Since they are both tied for the No. 1 spot, there is no salutatorian.
An interesting thing happened when this new system was put into place. Being named valedictorian became difficult to achieve.
When asked what they thought of the new grading system where classes are weighted to reward students for taking the most challenging courses, both valedictorians are firmly in favor of it.
"I've had to earn it," said Bailey. "It certainly hasn't been given to me."
Added Bella, "This way is definitely more fair. You have to take college-level courses or you're not going to get it. It means a lot more work, but it's the fairest way to do it."
In chatting with Bella and Bailey, one thing made itself clear -- these are two bright kids who are both geared toward high levels of success. They are witty and articulate and appear very deserving on being tops in their class. They both say it's been a longtime goal.
It lessens the honor to spread it among 20 students. It may be great for the student who made the valedictorian list after earning an "A" in basket weaving, but it stinks for the student who made an "A" in advanced physics to be lumped into that same category.
Congratulations to Bella Smith and Bailey Barnes, two students well deserving of the valedictorian honor. It's nice to be able to make that statement.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.