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Lockwood High senior raises online stir with article about valedictorians

Lockwood High senior raises online stir with article about valedictorians
Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-31 11:17:24-04

LOCKWOOD — Just months before graduation, Lockwood High School senior Taylor Kiel wrote an article for a journalism class that was published in the student newspaper, The Lockwood Leader, calling out the school about an apparent change in plans to recognize valedictorians at graduation.

Kiel has attended Lockwood schools since kindergarten and is set to graduate at the top of her class, the first graduates in the school's four-year history, with a 4.5-grade point average.

“I am valedictorian, and I’m not going to get recognized at graduation,” Kiel said Thursday.

Her article is titled "Tradition at LHS (or lack thereof)" and states, "I and many others believe that Lockwood's most significant tradition is missing: the recognition of valedictorian at graduation...It is my understanding that this tradition will not be recognized at Lockwood High School as certain individuals believe that this title creates competition and not collaboration among students."

Gordon Klasna, Lockwood High principal, said in an email the school is planning to recognize valedictorians during graduation but did not get into details.

"I can tell you that we will be recognizing the top academic achievers and provide the student(s) with the highest GPA an opportunity to do a farewell or valedictory address. I could have explained this better and cleared up any misinformation if people had come in to get details of the plan," Klasna said in a written statement.

Kiel argues that student-athletes are recognized for their achievements, and so should high achievers in the classroom.

“Everybody there, like superintendent, board members, everybody competed for their spot. And that’s how the real world works,” Kiel said. "What I’m hoping for is that we can make the change. Not just for me but for all the future valedictorians, because it’s not fair to them either."

Kiel brought the article to her mom, Heidi Hall, before it was published in the newspaper. Her mom asked her if she would be able to handle any backlash.

"Yes. She said if you don't make waves, nothing changes," Hall said. “So proud of her for standing up for herself, for every Lockwood student, current and future and for what is right.”

The article was posted on social media by Kiel's girlfriend's mother and quickly picked up attention. Which Kiel said, "Feels great."