I’m mainly writing this blog post to talk about the fixation humans have on outshining each other, and shoving our achievements in each other’s faces. I didn’t realize I fixated I myself was until I realized how much I was comparing my achievements to those of the other graduates.
At my school, any person who has a 4.0 unweighted GPA and has taken a certain number of AP classes is eligible to be a valedictorian. So, unlike other schools, we have a ton of valedictorians, compared to the single valedictorian at most schools. My high school had eighteen valedictorians. During the graduation ceremony, each valedictorian is honored by receiving a medal and having their plans for the future announced.
So they have a medal. Good for them.
Furthermore, there is a class called Socratic Seminar at my school. All students that take Socratic Seminar and have an unweighted GPA of 3.75 or higher attain the accolade of being a Distinguished Scholar and this achievement is marked by their wearing of a black stole at graduation.
As for chords, there are four chords that a scholar might receive. A black chord marks a weighted GPA of 3.5 to 3.74. A blue and white chord marks a weighted GPA or 3.75 to 4.0. A gold chord represents a recipient of a Faculty Award, and a white chord represents a recipient of a Department Award.
I was very proud and honored to wear a white chord and a blue and white chord.
Here’s the catch: I spent a lot of my senior year stressing over my GPA, wondering if it was worth taking a class to become Distinguished Scholar just to get the black stole, hoping I would get honored on Senior Awards night, etc.
Yesterday during the graduation ceremony, there were kids who I think are lovely people and enormously smart who had one or no chords, and there were kids who played it safe or were teachers’ pets who had three chords and a stole. And then I decided that while I was very happy to have two chords, I also have great respect for those who lack chords.
So I guess my point is, that we as humans spend a ton of time looking at ourselves and others for our flaws. But in the long run, it doesn’t really matter. Chords at graduation simply are a way for humans to find another way to feel better about ourselves.
I took Socratic Seminar this past semester, and I tried my hardest to get out of the class because I thought that everyone was going to look at me differently because I wasn’t going to be Distinguished Scholar even with the class. I failed, but I eventually decided that I was “beating the system” because I was taking the class and bettering myself, rather than taking the class just to get the stole, like almost everyone else did. While the reason I took the class in the first place was to get the stole, I like to think that I have expanded my horizons.
Furthermore, I am beyond proud of myself for what I have accomplished over these past few years. I was a part of one of three groups that were selected to perform musical selections at my graduation ceremony. I am going to Brazil next year for a youth exchange program. I am attending an awesome college the year after. I have won a ton of academic awards. I got a huge band award. I could keep going on, but I will stop. The short story is that I am proud of what I have accomplished and I am happy with where my life is going.