CCSD Announces the End of Valedictorians


Adam Goldstein

Cherry Creek High School graduates celebrate in the graduation ceremony in Stutler Bowl

Emily Gleason, News Editor

Unlike other schools in the district, Creek currently does not have a valedictorian. According to a letter sent out by the principals of the district, soon there will be none.

CCSD’s eight principals announced that the district will stop honoring class valedictorians starting with the class of 2026 in a letter sent out on March 9. 

The letter stated that one of the main reasons why the district will stop honoring valedictorians is because the method is “outdated and inconsistent,” and educators’ roles are to “teach all of our students, not to rank and sort them.” 

Despite the fact that all eight principals of the high schools in CCSD collaboratively came to this decision, only five of the eight high schools in the district (Eaglecrest, Grandview, Smoky Hill, Cherokee Trail, and Overland) currently honor valedictorians.

“I understand it’s kind of confusing for some people, because it was a collective letter,” Principal Ryan Silva said. “It was from all of the principals, all eight of us, but the reality is, it’s only five that are eliminating it because the other three don’t have it. It was deliberate to make it from everybody, because I think it was an idea that everyone believes in.”

While Creek has not had valedictorians in graduation programs since at least 1965, Principal Ryan Silva decides on the “Principal’s Top 10,” which despite its name, is a list of more than ten students that have the highest GPA. 

“Essentially it’s the top 10 weighted GPAs and every 4.0 [unweighted],” Silva said. “The highest [number of students] that we’ve had in one year is 36, and I would say on average, we’re probably around 24. So the top 10 is never 10.” 

Besides recognizing students through the “Top 10,” Creek also recognizes students with other awards to celebrate their achievements such as with the Bruin’s Choice Award and Outstanding Senior Student Award. 

“We recognize kids for leadership, school involvement, community service, athletics, combining athletics and scholarship, all of those types of things,” Silva said. “We also recognize kids for overcoming adversity, so we have a lot of different categories. I think that you still have to celebrate kids when they deserve to be celebrated”

Additionally, Creek does not put class rank on students’ transcripts. Creek got rid of class rank 12 years ago, but it can still be produced in order for students to apply to certain institutions like the military academies and apply for certain scholarships. 

Silva has still received backlash from a few community members about the decision to stop honoring valedictorians throughout the district, whereas Grandview, which currently honors class valedictorians, has not. 

“I have not personally faced any backlash because of this decision,” Grandview Principal Lisa Roberts said in an email interview. “I have been asked by a few people for more information, and I point them to research on this topic.” 

Grandview still has class rank and class valedictorians. At the end of the spring semester, the senior(s) who have the highest unweighted GPA of a 4.0 and the highest weighted grade of a 4.25 or higher will be honored as valedictorians at graduation. Additionally, the valedictorians must complete a minimum of 25 credits, at least eight Advanced Placement (AP) courses where three are completed senior year, and the highest AP level course in each of the five core subjects and complete the AP exams for each. 

Like Creek, Grandview also has other academic honors such as the Distinguished Scholar Program and Exceptional Student. 

As some of the high schools in CCSD are phasing out of honoring valedictorians, they will continue to honor students’ academic and nonacademic achievements in other ways such as with blue cords or gold cords at graduation, department-specific awards, and honor roll. 

“For those people who just think that the valedictorian symbolizes the only way to recognize achievement or merit, I think that there are so many different ways of doing that,” Silva said. “In a big school like ours, it’s important to recognize the individual differences when we can, because we are so big.”