With concern I read George Boardman’s letter (The Union May 30).
Apparently he has unanswered questions regarding the legitimacy of obtaining valedictorian honors at Nevada Union.
Having been a witness to what it took for the Fab 54 to achieve this distinction, I thought I might answer his questions with a summation of what a day in their lives entails.
A typical day for the Fab 54 begins at 5:30 a.m. (unless in Ag — their day begins earlier).
They grab breakfast and head out the door to arrive for zero (O’dark) hour to be members of varsity sports, choir, dance, FFA, Executive Council, Rotary-Interact, and numerous other organizations.
Next, the “real bell” rings. Off they go to their first of many Advanced Placement College courses at 7:25 a.m. Since these courses are required to mirror those taught in academically challenging colleges and universities, they come with an hour or more of homework per class each night.
After partaking in sometimes five to six of these AP classes, the final bell rings at 2:25 p.m. With a 15-minute grace period, the Fab 54 shift gears and enter the realms of “after school” activities.
These activities include volunteer tutoring of students in all grade levels, community service, employment, more varsity sports, Ag, choir, band, drama, dance, and too many others to list.
These activities take them to anywhere from 5 p.m. on. At this point, they are already at a 12-hour day.
Then, they go home to eat a fast dinner before hitting the books for three-plus hours of nightly homework.
They field phone calls and texts from friends who need help with an assignment, take off to a friend’s house to build a generator for physics or to organize their latest fundraising event.
These “post-after school” functions generally take them to 11 p.m. They have now been at it for 18 hours.
After a shower, those 54 fabulous heads hit their pillows to build upon their dreams, whilst in too few hours of REM state, only to be awakened six brief hours later to do it all over again. Whew … I am exhausted just typing this.
In order to achieve Valedictorian Honors at NU, these 54 must have maintained a 4.0 or greater GPA for every semester of high school. Most have GPAs that exceed 4.0 due to their many AP classes.
Do they do this on their own? No. These students are provided the opportunity to be in world-class, college-level learning environments with the knowledge and experience of Mike Cartan, Alex McDowell, John McDaniel, Terry Baxter, Kelly Molitor, Bruce Hild, Jeff Dellis, Jeff Kiefer, Mary Dodson and many more.
In addition to providing the required rigorous curriculum, these teachers are available at all hours, seven days a week, and they pour countless hours into detailed letters of recommendations which are mandatory for college admission.
It doesn’t stop there. In order to offer these opportunities, there are NU staff members who must also be on campus at zero hour and beyond (I have come to believe teacher/mentor Lynn McDaniel never goes home).
There are coaches, choir directors, drama instructors, counselors, as well as classified staff who go to work every day to help them become well rounded individuals filled with self esteem because of their personal achievements and the opportunities afforded them at NU.
By my calculations these students “turned down” acceptance at a minimum of 300 four-year institutions to matriculate to the college of their choice.
Several of these 54 will pay over $100,000 for their undergraduate degree unless they were fortunate enough to be awarded scholarships. Many will not stop at an undergraduate degree and will accumulate tremendous debt to achieve their goals.
Do you really want to know what a Valedictorian at NU is worth? Request that next year you are invited to attend Val’s and Sal’s night and Scholarship Night. These two events are organized by another NU asset, Barbara Ross. You could also shadow one of these students for just one of their 18-hour days.
After attending these events and keeping up with them for just one day, maybe the words of denigration will be changed to informed words filled with praise and respect for these remarkable students. You may even want to start a scholarship to honor them.
Congratulations, Fab 54! You absolutely deserve those medals and sashes. Thank you, NU, for recognizing their contributions to school and community by bestowing this honor upon them. They worked their A’s off for their A’s.
Debi Sekerak lives in Nevada City.