The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story about how Theresa Schmidt was unable to march with the rest of her class valedictorians. She had the required four years of straight A grades, but she lacked only one thing to qualify as a valedictorian: a chemistry class.
Rather than taking the chemistry class her senior year, Schmidt chose to take a physiology class instead. That class was sufficient to fill the science requirements for graduation, but it didn’t meet the requirements for valedictory honors. Schmidt first realized that she was in the running for valedictorian at the beginning of her senior year, when a friend pointed it out to her. But there was a snag when she tried to transfer to a chemistry class: it was the 14th day of school, and the rules at her high school don’t allow students to change classes after the 10th day of the semester.
Although Schmidt finished the year with straight A grades in physiology and the rest of her classes, her father was unable to get the school board to change the valedictorian requirements. He even filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, seeking an exception for his daughter because she suffers from narcolepsy. This medical condition was diagnosed in her sophomore year, and her doctor ordered Schmidt to take two short naps daily.
While I do feel sorry that Theresa Schmidt has to deal with narcolepsy, what does that have to do with her failure to qualify a valedictorian? If you answered “nothing,” move to the head of the class. Because she chose not to take a required class, she did not qualify as a valedictorian.
But this is far from a tragedy for Theresa Schmidt. She has exemplary grades and has already been awarded a scholarship to McKendree College. Not bad for someone who slept through school.