- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
With their high school careers behind them, the 2012 Calvert County valedictorians still have something to bond them: They want their title and what comes with it to be around for future classes.
For the past year, the principals of Calvert, Huntingtown, Northern and Patuxent high schools have been advocating getting rid of the valedictorian titles and instead having honors students vote amongst themselves on graduation speakers.
“It’s complete [expletive],” said Patuxent High School valedictorian Jason Mayer, who is attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville next year. “You’re always going to have pushy parents; if you take away the valedictorian, it’s ‘there goes the light at the end of the tunnel.’”
Huntingtown High School valedictorian Cecilia Sanders, who is attending Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., said, “It takes away the honor and the distinction.”
Sanders said she read that the principals spoke to high-ranked high school students to get their opinions, but she had her doubts.
“They never talked to us,” said Sanders, 17.
“It might not seem like a big difference between a 97 and a 100, but it is a big difference — it’s like the Olympics,” said Northern High School valedictorian Katherine Stiles, 17, who will be attending Rice University in Houston.
Stiles said she felt the election of the class president, who gets to speak at graduation, is already a “popularity contest.”
“I don’t like the idea of giving the two people who give speeches also a popularity contest,” Stiles said.
At The Calverton School in Huntingtown, this year’s valedictorian, Amanda McAneny, who will be attending Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., said because of the small class sizes at her school anyone who wants to gets to speak at graduation.
“But I get to go last so it’s like my farewell to the class,” said McAneny, 18, who said the smallness is one of the things she’ll miss the most about her school.
“The people at Calverton are just amazing; I love them. ... It’s like one big family,” she said. “It’s more like working together instead of competing.”
Calvert High School valedictorian Maranda Fordham, 17, also said she felt little competition.
“High school wasn’t that challenging for me so I’m looking forward to college,” said Fordham, who will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Stiles said being valedictorian was somewhat of a surprise for her, as she was ranked second in her class for the past couple of quarters.
“I think my mom was more excited than I was. [Being salutatorian] is still giving a speech,” Stiles said.
“No one believed I’d be able to get a speech in under 10 minutes, but it’s 3.5, so there,” said Sanders with a laugh.
Sanders said she planned to stay in touch with some of her former teachers when she goes to college.
“I had an amazing group of teachers so that made a huge difference,” she said of her high school experience.
Mayer, 18, said he wrote his speech much like he handled all of his work in high school: “Procrastinate till the last minute and use the adrenaline to get things done.”
Sanders added, “I’m the polar opposite — I’m a list fiend.”
What Fordham said she would not miss about high school were this year’s senior pranks.
“There were chickens and rats running around,” she said.
“At least you had one,” Mayer said of senior pranks. “We just decorated the school pink and yelled at the passing cars, like ‘yeah seniors.’”
Though graduation was just two weeks ago, the valedictorians already have busy summers lined up.
Sanders is working as a research associate for NASA.
“I’m looking for life on Mars, so that’s kind of cool,” she said.
Fordham is one of two students from Maryland selected for the monthlong National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia.
Stiles will spend 12 days in Russia with her church choir and McAneny plans to work as a math tutor.
Mayer said his plans include “video games for a month and a half” and then a move to Ohio with his family.
“I get to be in Ohio for three weeks and then I go to Nashville,” he said.
All of the students also are planning to major in one of the sciences.
Fordham plans to study chemistry and physics; Sanders plans to study physical and chemical biology and astronomy; Mayer plans to study math; McAneny is planning a biology major with a pre-med focus; and Stiles plans to study chemical engineering.