The Ivy Coach Daily

April 19, 2022

A Valedictorian At Last

We encourage our readers to check out a terrific documentary, No Title For Tracey, about a student wrongly denied her valedictorian title.

Back in 1984, a graduating senior at Springfield High School in Springfield, Illinois with the highest grades in the most rigorous courses was denied the valedictorian title. As Steven Spearie reports for USA Today in a heartwarming piece entitled “A high school graduate was denied valedictorian title. 38 years later, she gets the honor.,” “She was taking advanced or weighted classes.  All along, Robert Blackwell, [the student’s father], recalled, a school secretary meticulously had been calculating numbers and grades. [Tracey] Meares’ counselor, Pauline Betts, told her she had the No. 1 rank. ’(The secretary’s) records indicated that given the requirements of the titles of valedictorian and student rank, Tracey had the highest rank in the school and had therefore earned the title of valedictorian,’ Blackwell said.” So what happened?

Well, it seems someone at the school didn’t want Tracey Meares to be the school’s first Black valedictorian. In fact, a school dean had even been caught rifling through Tracey’s school counselor’s filing cabinet — and, more specifically, Meares’ school records, which led the counselor to go to the length of installing a lock. Lo and behold, the school opted not to name a valedictorian that year as it had historically done. Instead, the school chose to name “top students,” an honor that went to Tracey along with a white student.

But while justice delayed is justice denied, the school has made right with Tracey. After a film was made about the injustice by a young white woman who, as the nation grappled with a racial reckoning after the murder of George Floyd, felt the story needed to be told, Tracey was awarded the valedictorian honor by the the school district’s superintendent. The superintendent happened to be a freshman at Springfield High School when Tracey was a senior. We salute this superintendent for alas making right and we congratulate Tracey on her long overdue valedictorian honor.

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