High School Student With The Best Grades In His Class Forced To Fight For Valedictorian Title



Meet Ladarius Sapho. Tomorrow, the 18-year-old is graduating from Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, with the best grades in his class. Having achieved a weighted grade-point average of 4.135 thanks to kicking ass in his honors classes, Sapho should be a shoe-in for Valedictorian and had even prepared his speech for the big day. But early last week, school Principal Tony Valente called Sapho and the expected Salutatorian (who has the second best grades in the class) into his office to deliver a crushing blow — neither was eligible for the titles after all, because they had both started at the school as sophomores after moving into the district. Allegedly, there’s a policy that requires that valedictorians/salutatorians must have attended the school for at least seven semesters to receive the honors.

“I was gonna be number one, valedictorian of 2014. I was going to be giving the speech at graduation,” said Sapho in an interview with FOX 32 Chicago. “You’re gonna tell me just two weeks before graduation? I had a speech ready, I was ready to give this speech, practicing and he tells me I can’t be number one.”

Community advocate Antoinette Gray, who has been working on behalf of Sapho to get him the title he has earned, says that no such policy exists. “They have been asked not once, but two or three times to produce that written policy,” said Gray. “And the reason that was given by Tony Valente, the school principal, was that it was his discretion to make that decision.” In other words, Valente, on his own, decided to take away Sapho’s rightful honor, tried to use some non-existent policy to justify it, and then when he couldn’t provide it, basically was all, “I DO WHAT I WANT.” Sapho, who has a full-ride scholarship to a college in Hawaii, where he plans to study to be a neurosurgeon, says he will continue to fight for the honor, refusing an alleged offer from the school to be co-valedictorian.

“I’m gonna fight this, because I worked hard. I worked hard these past three years. And all this is gonna go down the toilet because of a policy no one has seen,” said Sapho. According to FOX 32 Chicago, a district spokesman said the policy is on the district’s website, but they were unable to find it. If this policy is so important, so essential to determining which student is eligible for these illustrious honors, you would think it would be easier to find and reference.

Given that there is seemingly no policy to support Valente’s decision, you’ve got to wonder why he’s so determined to see Sapho stripped of his Valedictorian title. I placed a call to Valente’s office, but his mailbox was full, and a school official transferred me to the public relations office, for whom I left a message. I’ll update this post with any new information. In the meantime, if you’d like to show your support for Sapho, you can find contact information for school officials here. [Fox 32]