Cherry Creek School District Eliminates Valedictorian for All Schools

Is being valedictorian worth it anymore?


Simone Van de Sande, Staffer

Nearly 90 percent [of valedictorians followed in one study] are now in professional careers with 40 percent in the highest tier jobs. They are reliable, consistent, and well-adjusted, and by all measures the majority have good lives. But how many of these number-one high school performers go on to change the world, run the world, or impress the world? The answer seems to be clear; zero.

— Kevin McMullin


Freshman Madisyn Lyninger has been longing to get Valedictorian since the 6th grade.

“I want to follow in my mother’s footsteps, I wanted to get the approval of my mother since she was a valedictorian,” Lyninger said.

Valedictorian, to many, is achieving something of great value.

Lyninger was one among many students who were shocked to hear the district announcing the elimination of valedictorian after the graduating class of 2026.

In spring, district leaders sent an email to guardians all over the Cherry Creek School District stating, “The practices of class rank and valedictorian status are outdated and inconsistent with what we know and believe of our students. We believe all students can learn at high levels, and learning is not a competition.”

A number of students found this unfair, eliminating a long-held tradition. Senior Nicole sparks is one of them, a 4.0 GPA student competing for Valedictorian.

“I don’t necessarily think that it’s fair. I know a lot of students have been and still are working hard to maintain their grades,” Sparks said.

It doesn’t have to be proven that students put in effort for themselves to academically look the best.

“The truth about college admissions, and things of that sort, don’t carry the weight that they once did, especially when schools are having 9-15 valedictorians.” Michael Ady said, coordinator for the IB and AP programs.

Valedictorian does not hold the power that it is used to, straying from the traditional one-student per grade rule.

CCSD recognizes that the valedictorian position isn’t what it used to be.

The email stated, “We found an inconsistency among our schools in the number of valedictorians, qualifications of valedictorian status, and a misunderstanding of what valedictorian is.”

Many authorities in the school district believe that the valedictorian position strays from what it once was, holding less academic power than it has in the past.

With there being a very small percentage of kids affected by the change regarding the valedictorian position, eliminating valedictorian doesn’t seem to be an issue for the district’s authoritative figures.

“We will continue to acknowledge the academic achievements of our students throughout various other ways (i.e., honor roll, GPA cords at graduation, department of school-specific awards, etc.) To ensure we are in alignment with colleges and universities’ admission processes,” CCSD said.

With there being a small percentage affected by Valedictorian the CCSD feels that taking valedictorian away will not harm the academic success in the school district, but will also “take away unnecessary pressure” put on the students.

Many parents and guardians are curious as to what the outcome will be after dismissing the valedictorian.

Over nearly 90% of valedictorians are successful, and 40% have high-tier jobs, according to Kevin McMullin, college admissions assist for students, parents and counselors.

“They are reliable, consistent, and well adjusted, and by all measures, the majority have good lives. But how many of these number-one high school performances go to change the world, run the world or impress the world? The answer seems to be; zero,” McMullin said.

Although many of these highly academically driven students go on to be successful in life, none of them seem to have a big enough impact on the world today.

As known, many past valedictorians end up being successful, though many “hate talking about it,” Ady said, “handful of adults get embarrassed to talk about it, almost as if they feel people are gonna make fun of them for it.”

The shift between walking up onto the stage and being proud of what you did, and years later being embarrassed to talk about it shifts the atmosphere of the situation.