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Valedictorian is an academic title of success used in the
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(and elsewhere in a limited number of schools) for the student who delivers the closing or farewell statement at a graduation ceremony (called a
valediction A valediction (Derivation (linguistics), derivation from Latin ''vale dicere'', "to say farewell"), or complimentary close in American English, is an expression used to say farewell, especially a word or phrase used to end a letter or message,
). The chosen valedictorian is traditionally the student with the highest academic standing among their graduating class, and that standing is commonly determined by a numerical formula for
Grade Point Average Grading in education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training ...
(GPA), but other methods of selection are also in use. The term is an
Anglicised Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or understand in English English usually ...
derivation Derivation may refer to: * Derivation (differential algebra), a unary function satisfying the Leibniz product law * Derivation (linguistics) * Formal proof or derivation, a sequence of sentences each of which is an axiom or follows from the precedi ...
of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

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''vale dicere'' ("to say farewell"), historically rooted in the valedictorian's traditional role as the final speaker at the
graduation Graduation is the award of academic degree An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer d ...

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ceremony before the students receive their diplomas. The valedictory address generally is considered a final farewell to classmates, before they disperse to pursue their individual paths after graduating. In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and India the title valedictorian is not used frequently. In Australia, the title is sometimes awarded to a member of a graduating university class on the basis of a contribution to the school rather than academic success. The highest-ranking student in a graduating class is often referred to as ''
dux ''Dux'' (; plural: ''ducēs'') is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...
'' (Latin for "leader"), and may or may not give a speech. In
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the term ''Major de promotion'' ("first in class") is used, although the term is not related to any ceremonial role, as there are rarely graduation ceremonies in schools or universities.


Selection

The most common method of selection is typically based upon the highest
grade point average Grading in education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training ...
. Some institutions confer the title on the class member chosen to deliver the final graduation address, regardless of the speaker's academic credentials. Historically and traditionally, however, schools confer the title upon the top ranked graduate of the class, whether determined by GPA or some other means such as a faculty vote, who thereby earns the honor of delivering the valedictory address. Some institutions award the title based upon various criteria such as an overall academic record of
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and
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, a student's grade point average, the level of rigor within a student's academic program of studies, a vote by school administrators, the level of participation in and dedication to
extracurricular activities An extracurricular activity (ECA) or extra academic activity (EAA) or Cultural Activities, cultural activities is an activity, performed by students, that falls outside the realm of the normal curriculum of school, college or university education ...
, and one's public-speaking skills and abilities. In other schools, the position may be elected by the school body or appointed directly by the school administration based on various systems of merit. Some schools may feature "co-valedictorians" in lieu of conferring the title on a single individual from among the graduating class. This may occur in the case of a numerical tie in grade point averages, as part of a
Latin honors Latin honors are a system of phrases used in some s and to indicate the level of distinction with which an has been earned. The system is primarily used in the . It is also used in some Southeastern Asian countries with European colonial his ...
system.


Awards

A valedictorian is usually given a gold medal during the graduation ceremony, with the
salutatorianSalutatorian is an academic title given in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consi ...
receiving a silver medal.


Controversy

The awarding of the valedictorian honor may be the subject of heated controversy. Often the differences separating the top student from the nearest competitors are small, and sometimes there are accusations that the winner took advantage of the rules in a way that seemed unfair, such as taking easy courses to get additional credits. Some schools have dropped the honor or changed the rules to allow multiple recipients. In turn, such changes have led to complaints that it is unfair to change the rules after a competition has begun. The New Jersey Commissioner of Education, for example, required schools to make changes to valedictorian award policy effective only for the incoming freshman class, not students already enrolled. Another New Jersey case raised the question of whether accommodations for students under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act An individual is that which exists as a distinct wikt:entity , entity. Individuality (or self-hood) is the state or quality of being an individual; particularly (in the case of humans) of being a person unique from other people and possessing one ...
and related laws should affect valedictorian honors. In '' Hornstine v. Township of Moorestown'', a
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judge blocked the Moorestown Superintendent of Schools from retroactively changing school policy to deny a disabled student sole honors. While those who do well in school often find success in university and professional life, one study claimed to show that valedictorians were not any more likely to excel at a global scale than other students, with the argument being made that those with passions for subjects are more likely to excel, yet those same students tend to find it more difficult to work hard at subjects that they are not interested in.


Valedictory address

The valedictory address, or
valediction A valediction (Derivation (linguistics), derivation from Latin ''vale dicere'', "to say farewell"), or complimentary close in American English, is an expression used to say farewell, especially a word or phrase used to end a letter or message,
, is the closing or farewell statement delivered at a graduation ceremony. It is an oration at commencement (in Canada, called convocation in university and graduation in high school) exercises in U.S. and some Canadian high schools, colleges, and universities delivered by one of the graduates. The mode of discourse generally is inspirational and persuasive. The various aims of this address are to inspire the graduates and to thank individuals responsible for their successes while reflecting on youthful frivolity and the accomplishments of the class. Above all, however, the primary aim of the valedictory address is to allow a representative of the graduating class to bid a final farewell to the students and to the school, as the graduates prepare to disperse and to begin the next phase of their lives.


See also

*
SalutatorianSalutatorian is an academic title given in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consi ...
*
Class rank Class rank is a measure of how a student's performance compares to other students in their class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a ...
*
Dux ''Dux'' (; plural: ''ducēs'') is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...

Dux
*
Grade inflation Grade inflation (also known as grading leniency) is the awarding of higher grades than students deserve, which yields a higher average grade given to students. The term is also used to describe the tendency to award progressively higher academic g ...
* '' Hornstine v. Township of Moorestown'' *
Latin honors Latin honors are a system of phrases used in some s and to indicate the level of distinction with which an has been earned. The system is primarily used in the . It is also used in some Southeastern Asian countries with European colonial his ...


References

{{Reflist Academic terminology Academic honours Qualifications