Ladarius Sapho had his valedictorian speech already prepared when the principal at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois informed the reportedly straight A student that he was not eligible to receive the top honor he worked so hard to achieve.
With a 4.135 GPA, Principal Tony Valente explained that, while he performed well enough for the valedictorian position, he technically didn’t qualify for the honor, News One reported. “I was gonna be number one, valedictorian of 2014. I was going to be giving the speech at graduation,” Sapho explained. According to Fox 32, Sapho, as well as the school’s rightful salutatorian, were informed of the bad news last week.
Valente told the students who had earned the valedictorian and salutatorian honors that technically they couldn’t qualify because of an allegedly unwritten rule requiring students to attend at least seven of the eight high school semesters at that school in order to be eligible. The valedictorian and salutatorian both transferred from other schools, starting their learning careers at Proviso East as sophomores.
Antoinette Gray is a community advocate who has been trying to help Sapho retain his valedictorian status. “There is no policy,” said Gray told Fox 32. “They have been asked not once, but two or three times to produce that written policy. And the reason that was given by Tony Valente, the school principal, was that it was his discretion to make that decision.” HipHopWired reported that Gray says that Principal Valente is simply using his own discretion and that there is no regulation on the books specifying Valente’s decision to withhold the valedictorian and salutatorian honors from the Proviso East seniors. A district representative said the policy can be found on the district website, but so far no media outlet was able to locate such a policy. According to Gray, it wasn’t in any written documentation anywhere.
According to the school’s website, “Sapho, LaDarius” is not listed on the High Honor Roll or the “A” Honor Roll, but he does appear in the “B” Honor Roll area of the honor’s page on the site. It is not clear if this is an error or due to the practice where high schools often assign higher grade point values to honors classes. No mention is made of requirements for valedictorian or salutatorian in the school’s handbook that is available online. A Facebook page was created to support Ladarius Sapho’s valedictorian title on Friday. Since the media exposure, the school’s website has announced that Sapho will indeed be able to speak at this year’s graduation, as well as the school’s unofficial salutatorian. Sapho will not be able officially claim the title of valedictorian, but according to the school, they now still wish to celebrate his hard work with an honorary title:
“The naming of the valedictorian and salutatorian in the District is governed by administrative procedures of the District as required by board policy. The practice of naming the valedictorian and salutatorian that was followed this year has been followed historically. However, the District is honoring four committed students this year.”
According to MyFoxPhilly, Sapho plans to become a neurosurgeon and has accepted a full ride scholarship to college in Hawaii. The Inquisitr reported about a homeless student that was awarded the title of valedictorian of Charles Drew High School when she, like Ladarius Sapho, exceeded a 4.0 with a GPA of 4.466.
[Photo viaLadarius Sapho Valedictorian 2014’s Facebook page]