Obsession over class rank no longer a priority


Gabby Norman, Managing Editor

Sophomore year, I watched Kyle Martin’s valedictory speech. He had graduated from the King’s Academy in 2019 with a 4.64-grade point average. I was 8th in the class, after having dropped from 5th. My dad had sent it to me, and I opened it in the car while we were waiting in line at the drive-through Kroger pharmacy. Martin’s 8-minute video changed my whole life. He talked about how hard he worked, how when he had his name called for valedictorian, his heart was racing, he was insanely happy, euphoric even. He felt this for about 15 seconds. For 15 seconds, his problems melted away. He had achieved the thing he had spent his last year sacrificing for. 

But when the 16th second came, he felt nothing.

His problems didn’t magically go away, instead, he was left with a silver stole and the knowledge that in his quest for this achievement, he had made many sacrifices, left people behind. 

It was at this moment that I realized I didn’t want to make the same mistake he had. I didn’t want to let this one thing cause me stress and take away from my relationships with friends and family. 

I’m not saying I’m not working hard, I always will. I’ve always been the type of person to go above and beyond, and I hope I always will be. I’m not going to let it control my life anymore, and neither should you. I’m not going to spend 8 hours meticulously going over documents instead of cooking with my sister. I’m not going to get physically sick over a bad grade anymore or cry when I get a not-so-great grade.

You see, that’s what happens. We push ourselves to perfection, forgetting that the only perfection to push ourselves to is the one we see for ourselves. When we do that, are we really helping ourselves?

Over the last 17 years, I’ve realized something, and I believe a lot more people are starting to realize it, too. We aren’t 100% learning. We’re competing. There’s a difference.

It was at this moment that I realized I didn’t want to make the same mistake [Kyle Martin] had. I didn’t want to let this one thing cause me stress and take away from my relationships with friends and family. 

In high school, it’s all about who has the best grades, the best GPA. You need to take advanced classes for a better GPA, and you need a good GPA for a good class rank, and the better your class rank, the better luck you’ll have getting into college. This is great, except for the fact that you don’t have to be smart to have a good class rank, and vice versa. The smartest kid in the class could have a terrible rank. It’s a system, and the better you are at it, the more willing you are to sacrifice, the better you will do. 

I’ll put it in simple terms. If I took all AP classes, that’s about an hour to two hours of homework, per class, every night. That’s seven to 14 hours of homework. Number one, it’s just not feasible, and number two, what if you’re an athlete or in band or choir? That’s tough but pick one. Either take classes to improve your grade, or choose to do what you love and suffer the consequences. 

COVID has made things harder by adding yet another factor to the list. Virtual allows you more freedom, but if you have a question? Better hope your teacher doesn’t take two days to answer. 

The argument will be that there has to be a balance between work and fun, but in reality, finding that balance is like finding a needle in a haystack. I’ve had to make my decision. I’m a multisport athlete, managing editor of the school newspaper, vice president of the book club, in four national honor societies, and I’m taking three advanced placement classes. My class rank is still dropping. I could give up my life, sell my soul for a better rank, but is it really worth it?

Students, upon entering the gates of high school, have to make the choice that will determine the rest of their high school career: will you play the game, or not risk having regrets in the sixteenth second?