Valedictorian, salutatorian for Class ’09 announced

March 10, 2009 — by Tiffany Tung and Melody Zhang

Neither of them saw it coming. The two friends are hard workers, one dedicating himself to music and basketball, and the other dedicating himself to The Falcon and Key Club. At first tied together through their willingness to always do their best, seniors Thomas Wang and Michael Chen were brought together again for one of the highest achievements possible in one’s high school career: having the highest grade point averages for the class of 2009.

Wang and Chen were notified shortly before February break that they were the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the class of 2009.

“I just went through high school trying my best,” said Wang. “I mean, I did orchestra and basketball, but there are so many people more talented than I am.”

The distinctions of valedictorian and salutatorian are determined through GPAs. Both Wang and Chen took a variety of AP and Honors classes during their high school career, managing to maintain high grades in all of them. Despite common misconceptions, neither valedictorian nor salutatorian is required to make a speech during graduation.

“We have had valedictorians and salutatorians try out for the speeches, and we have had them give speeches over the years,” said assistant principal Brian Safine, “but grad speeches are actually allowed to be given by anyone [as long as they make it through a competition].”

In addition to recognizing the valedictorian and salutatorian, many other students will be honored during the graduation ceremony. Those who finish 100 hours of community service wear a red cord.

But the academic awards don’t stop there. Every year, 100 students are chosen for high honors and honors based on GPA and wear a gold cord. “But we have yet to decide the cut off GPA for these distinctions,” said Safine. “The GPA is always very close.”

Chen, who will wear both cords, is satisfied about his accomplishments, despite never intending to be salutatorian.

“I don’t think anyone sets a goal and says ‘I want to be valedictorian’ or ‘I want to have this GPA,’” said Chen. “Everyone just tries their best. Nevertheless, it’s a great honor to be recognized, especially at a school like Saratoga where all my peers have excelled to the highest degree.”

2 views this week