Posted by: Kate | August 26, 2009

Rank and File

I didn’t attend senior year at my high school. I went to college a year early, to the Clarkson School, a program specifically designed for bored smart kids. I didn’t skip my senior year altogether; it was combined with my college freshman year. At the end of it, I had the option of walking in my high school graduation ceremony, or skipping it altogether.

All other things being equal, I probably would not have attended. The Clarkson School had its own little ceremony, and I happily attended that, with all of my family around me, and smiled all day long. That would have been plenty, and I certainly wasn’t suffering from a burning desire to revisit the hallowed halls of high school.

Except for one little detail. I graduated in a class of just under 400, and my high school treated those in Ranks 1 through 4 a bit differently than the rest of the class. The valedictorian and salutatorian gave their speeches, of course, but Numbers 3 and 4 also got to sit in special seats way up front, according to class rank. The rest of the class was seated alphabetically, and to further the distinction, the Adult Ed graduates were seated in between the top four ranked graduates and everyone else. It seemed awfully arbitrary to me: Why four? Why not five, or ten, or just two?

It just so happened that, even though I wasn’t there for the last year of coursework, I graduated fourth in my class. I had already completed a year of college, and high school was effectively a past and bygone era.  I just didn’t care about any of it, anymore.

But Rank #5? Was pissed. She felt that it was wildly unfair, somehow, for me to be able to claim that seat despite not having struggled through the same set of senior courses she had taken. No matter that, having already accelerated through the math, science, language and history requirements, I only needed two half-credit courses to graduate, and would have attended the local community college half days if I hadn’t gone away to school. Somehow those two half-credits, coming from a university instead of a public high school, made all the difference in the world to her. She didn’t just want me removed from the graduation ceremony, she wanted me stripped of class rank altogether – because, that way, she would rise to Rank #4 and get to sit way up in the front.

She became so intense about this that she circulated a petition, looking for other people to get as riled up about the unfairness of it all. From what I heard, she ended up with a sheet of paper signed by her friends, but she wasn’t able to get anyone else to dredge up sufficient interest to even scrawl their name. In any case, the administration was entirely disinterested – my guidance counselor told me that it was brought up during the “Jokes and Screwups” section of the next staff meeting – and I got to keep my seat.

And because I’m an inherently obnoxious and oppositional individual, myself, all it took was hearing about her special little petition, and my decision was made: of course I would attend the ceremony. I still didn’t care about the pomp and circumstance of the day, for myself, but I was quite willing to allow my mere presence to fuel her ongoing resentment and bitterness.

Not that I want to be in touch with my inner bitch every day, mind you, but it was nice to know I could, guiltlessly, activate that unsweet streak when I wanted to, and that I still find a certain degree of satisfaction in my choice, over 14 years later.

Madhouse again, and hopefully some of the other posters have happier, or at least less bitter, high school stories…


  1. HeeHee LOL that is hilarious to me.

    Most of my class took college course at the high school which ended up being weight a lot more heavily we had people graduate with nearly a 5.0 on a 4.0 system (that just seemed very lamed to me.) I had a 3.89 and was in the top 15% of my class of nearly 400.

  2. LOL. That’s awesome!

  3. Delicious!

  4. I’d have done the same thing but then I’m not a very competitive person and would have been highly unlikely to be selected in the top 10 let alone five, Sorry Kate, I’ve been very slack and not participated over the past couple of weeks. Demands of work and all but I will, I promise!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: