A GPA of 5.898? Pretty good, huh? Not surprisingly, Anjali Datta’s GPA of close to 6.0 was the highest in her graduating class in Grapevine, Texas—and probably the highest in her high school’s history. Nonetheless, Anjali was not awarded the title of valedictorian.
Here’s the thing: Anjali managed to graduate high school in just three years, since she had so many credits. According to school board policy, students need to attend school for four years to be the valedictorian. This rule was set in place to prevent students from entering the school district at the last minute with the purpose of swiping the title. Although this isn’t the case, lawyers from the school district insist that the rule has to be followed nonetheless.
Instead, Anjali will be receiving a special title: “Valedictorian: Three Years.”
So why in the world is the school district being so strict about a rule that clearly wasn’t meant to apply to this situation? Why is a hardworking student being penalized for completing the task of high school in three years—which, by anyone’s standards, is one heck of an accomplishment?
It’s hard to say why bureaucracy won out over common sense in this situation. With admission to selective colleges so competitive, perhaps the school district was afraid that somebody’s parents would sue over the coveted title of valedictorian.
Whatever the reason, what kind of message does this send? Bureaucracy is more important than academic excellence? Success only counts if you jump through every hoop with 100% accuracy—even if your slightly faulty hoop jumping reflects an amazing accomplishment?
Valedictorian or not, Ms. Datta will be graduating with an unbelievable GPA, and has a fabulous future ahead of her. Best of luck to you, Anjali. You’re obviously on your way to a life of fabulous success stories—and no school board bureaucracy can take away.
Read more about this story in this Dallas Morning News.