Top spot gives teen no reward

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Jasmine Young is ranked No. 1 in her graduating class, but she won't be her school's valedictorian because of a technicality.

<B>WHAT THE RULES SAY</B><br> Lucy C. Laney High School senior Jasmine Young (above) attended a private school in North Carolina earlier this school year while her family moved to New Jersey, costing her the title of valedictorian.<br> Richmond County's policy states: "To be selected as the Valedictorian (highest average in the class) or Salutatorian (second highest average in the class) for a school, the student must have taken all junior and senior course work in Richmond County."  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
WHAT THE RULES SAY
Lucy C. Laney High School senior Jasmine Young (above) attended a private school in North Carolina earlier this school year while her family moved to New Jersey, costing her the title of valedictorian.
Richmond County's policy states: "To be selected as the Valedictorian (highest average in the class) or Salutatorian (second highest average in the class) for a school, the student must have taken all junior and senior course work in Richmond County."

The Laney High School senior described it as climbing to the top of a mountain only to fall back to the bottom. Ms. Young, 18, sacrificed time out with friends and squeezed in time between playing for the school basketball team to hit the books to reach the top of her class.

"I did all of this, and now I'm not going to get any recognition," she said after learning she won't be valedictorian. "In the back of my mind, I was thinking, 'Why put forth all of this effort?'"

Richmond County's policy states that students must be enrolled in school the first and second semesters of their senior year to be eligible to be valedictorian.

But Ms. Young attended a private school in Fayetteville, N.C., for several weeks while her family moved. In August, her father, a member of the Army, was deployed in Iraq and received orders for the family to relocate to New Jersey.

Ms. Young chose to stay in Augusta because she would have been a year behind if she transferred there. When she returned to Laney, she made up all of her work and still managed the highest grade point average of her class, and her report card will even list her as No. 1.

Her parents have contacted local, state and federal officials to seek help for their daughter.

"I understand there are policies put in place, but in some instances there should be exceptions granted on a case-by-case basis, especially in the case of the military," Sgt. 1st Class James Young wrote in an e-mail on his daughter's behalf. "I am fighting for my country, and now I have a son that has been deployed. It's not like we don't already have enough to worry about over here, now this."

Her mother, Karen Young, who works for the Department of Defense, has been writing letters, working her way up the chain of command, too.

"I really don't want to be stressed out anymore," she said.

Mrs. Young said it would be fair to have co-valedictorians or give her daughter some sort of recognition.

School board Vice President Joe Scott said he is just learning of the situation but wants to do what is fair for all students.

"It looks like the board could make an exception," he said, though he said he would need all the facts.

Unless there is an "outstanding" reason not to, Mr. Scott said, he would support making Ms. Young valedictorian.

"President Bush is always talking about supporting our troops, and this is one way we can support them," he said.

Board member Helen Minchew said the policy is in place to look out for the other students who have been at a school much longer. Though she is hoping the board will make an exception, Ms. Young remains positive and said nothing will take away her plans for college and a career in electrical engineering.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT THE RULES SAY


Lucy C. Laney High School senior Jasmine Young (above) attended a private school in North Carolina earlier this school year while her family moved to New Jersey, costing her the title of valedictorian.


Richmond County's policy states: "To be selected as the Valedictorian (highest average in the class) or Salutatorian (second highest average in the class) for a school, the student must have taken all junior and senior course work in Richmond County."

Source: Richmond County Board of Education

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LMS2005
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LMS2005 04/25/07 - 03:53 am
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Some rules are made to be

Some rules are made to be broken. I feel that this young lady should be honored for her hard work. I pray that the BOE will reconsider this policy.................Ms Young don't give up on your dream. You know that you are #1, your family and friends know too. Hold your head up and march on, march on...

Just My Opinion
6251
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Just My Opinion 04/25/07 - 03:54 am
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Every once in awhile,

Every once in awhile, something like this happens that just show how the rules stink. There has to be rules, and I'm sure there's a reason this rule was placed. That being said, I wish this girl luck in getting this deserved distinction. But, if it's not meant to be, she will still benefit greatly from all the hard work and academia she's received. One way or another, I congratulate her!

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 04/25/07 - 04:53 am
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There are exceptions to every

There are exceptions to every rule because 'one size fits all' rules can't take into consideration every scenario. This appears to be that exception. Allow Ms. Young her award, she earned it.

rbk
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rbk 04/25/07 - 05:02 am
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It seems to me if her report

It seems to me if her report card lists her as No. 1, then she should be allowed to participate as No. 1 at her graduation! Perhaps this is a good time to review the rules and make corrections as necessary!

bubba01
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bubba01 04/25/07 - 05:05 am
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As the child of a retired

As the child of a retired military parent I understand this girl's hurt. I have never heard of such a rule especially in a town where a military base is located. Just goes to show what dummies Richmond has running things not only the BOC but also the BOE.

shamrock
585
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shamrock 04/25/07 - 05:05 am
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Come on ... we have

Come on ... we have exceptions for situations caused by military service up to and including filing your income taxes and we can't make an exception for a deserving student? She had no control over what happened ... she worked hard to overcome the difficulties thrown her way by our country asking for her father's and now her brother's sacrifices. Hello? ... Reality Check??

Jenn30907
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Jenn30907 04/25/07 - 05:09 am
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I grew up in a home that

I grew up in a home that taught me to challenge the rules. I teach my children the same thing. It's good to see other parents teaching their children that too. Some rules are meant to be broken and this is one of them! This young lady absolutely deserves to be valedictorian! Good Luck Jasmine!

CSRAider
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CSRAider 04/25/07 - 05:12 am
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Hey if you know your number 1

Hey if you know your number 1 and dont make it because of some silly rules you cant let that get you down. Self confidence and pride go alot farther than a little piece of paper.

liljazz2007
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liljazz2007 04/25/07 - 05:27 am
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I would like to say thank you

I would like to say thank you to all of you that understand my situation. I feel what God has for me, is for me; no devil can take it. "All things happen for the good of those who love God" Well school starts soon...lol jasmine

NEone
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NEone 04/25/07 - 05:38 am
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liljazz: "Why put forth all

liljazz: "Why put forth all this effort?" How about for your own personal growth? Did you do it just for the recognition? That will fade in time, but the learning/lessons will stay with you. I'm not saying you shouldn't be the val, but there's more to this than that. Press on!

skeptical
84
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skeptical 04/25/07 - 05:43 am
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Jasmine, let me assure you

Jasmine, let me assure you that no one will remember whether you were validictorian or not 10 years from now. Go to a good college, make great grades there, get elected to Phi Beta Kappa, go to grad school - and all this will be insignificant.

On the other hand, if you went to Laney for your first three years of high school and just missed a few weeks of your senior year - I would encourage the Board of Education to do what's right and recognize your outstanding achievement by naming you validictorian.

vrn
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vrn 04/25/07 - 05:53 am
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If I read the article right,

If I read the article right, she did all her credited work in RC. She left for a few weeks but when she returned she completed all work she had missed. Technically she didn't miss anything. If she had been homebound for an illness/injury and made up the work we wouldn't be having this conversation. And yes we are military and I've had four kids have to do this moving around in school/high school. We will be staying here in RC(no, it's not a magnet school) for my son's final year while my husband moves out of state for work.

bigc
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bigc 04/25/07 - 05:57 am
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So am I the only one that is

So am I the only one that is shocked to discover that the smartest student at Laney is still a year behind students in Jersey!?!?! I really feel for the young lady and can relate (to a much lesser degree, I was NOWHERE near Valedictorian) I went through a nightmare transferring to an Alabama school-yes I was behind even them- from here. Thanks RCBOE for yet another screwed up life.

kudzo-n-roses
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kudzo-n-roses 04/25/07 - 07:04 am
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"I did all of this, and now

"I did all of this, and now I'm not going to get any recognition," she said after learning she won't be valedictorian. "In the back of my mind, I was thinking, 'Why put forth all of this effort?'"

If the only reason was for the glory and not self fulfillment and the chance to go on to college and make a great future...then we have a spoiled kid attitude...suck it up and continue on your path to a great life.!!

getalife
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getalife 04/25/07 - 07:11 am
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The BOE should modify the

The BOE should modify the rules and let Jasmine be the valedictorian. She is an 18 year old and she does deserve the recognition!!

MSPOOCHIE
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MSPOOCHIE 04/25/07 - 07:17 am
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I like what Jasmine said

I like what Jasmine said about what God has for her it is for her. I trully hope that the board will make the correct decision and allow this young lady to be noticed for her hard work and dedication to getting her education. Rules were made to be broken. If report card and everything say she is #1 how can that be disputed, the truth is in the pudding!!!! I congratulate you Ms. Jasmine for your decision to strive for the best in life."Strive for the best, accept nothing less".

onehotdog
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onehotdog 04/25/07 - 07:18 am
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if you can't follow the

if you can't follow the rules, don't cry in the end

djm
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djm 04/25/07 - 07:34 am
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College applications won't

College applications won't care about the rules...they will see her as Number 1, and will base their scholarships on that.
In her heart, she should know she's number 1...However, I do understand why they have the rules. A few families would transfer their kid around if one school was too competitive and their kid was no. 2 but could easily be no. 1 at another school.
But if she attended junior and senior year at Laney except for a few weeks in NC, they need to grant her the Validvictorian status.

thohen
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thohen 04/25/07 - 07:39 am
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It's situations like this

It's situations like this that cause some of our young people to not trust the "system" or our government, and we wonder what is happening to our young people. Clearly there should be and exception to the rule for this young lady. She not only met all the academic requirements, she is also dealing with a father risking his life for all of us. Think about what you are doing Laney High and Richmond County.

lilmama27
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lilmama27 04/25/07 - 07:40 am
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Jasmine may God continue to

Jasmine may God continue to keep you focused. All blessings come from God. You have several gifts and no one can take that from you. Be encouraged and continue to succeed. I must say some of RCBOE members need to suit up and head overseas. Maybe then you all will see how this affects not only you but your family as well. Did anyone notice that the VP of the Board and a board member had no clue about this issue? Yes, boomer" it is a shocker to know the smartest student, taking AP classes" is still behind the students in NJ. NJ is ranked in the top five and GA the low 40's.

shepster
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shepster 04/25/07 - 07:42 am
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"No DEVIL can take it?" So,

"No DEVIL can take it?" So, who is the DEVIL you are speaking of? It's AMUSING to me that you learn of the requirements AFTER the fact. If you are soooooo smart, why didn't you look into this before OR during the school year? Oh, that's right.., we are teaching our children it's ALWAYS someone else's fault.

If this distinction was so very important to you and your familiy, why weren't you proactively seeking out the requirements? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Now, having said that, maybe the classy thing to do would be to sincerely congratulate the person who WILL be recognized.., I mean, what about THEM? They followed the rules & now someone ELSE is supposed to get the award? Puh-LEASE!

Cry me a RIVER and get a LIFE. Your family is fighting in a WAR & you are whining about rules that were established WELL BEFORE you came along.

soldout
1283
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soldout 04/25/07 - 07:48 am
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Men' honors are meant to

Men' honors are meant to build self esteem. Who we really are depends on our relationship to Jesus Christ. With Jesus we are everything and witrhout Him we are nothing. We don't need self esteem but we need to know who we are in Christ. Only what we do for him counts. Achievement is wonderful but without Jesus in our hearts it is nothing. It is like taking an old car and fixing it up and making it perfect in the world's eyes and then driving it off a cliff. She has ability and will achieve and man's honor doesn't matter. If they change the rule that is fine and if they don't that is fine. She knows what she has done and hopefully knows what is really important in this world and the world to come.

ripjones
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ripjones 04/25/07 - 07:49 am
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I think we should let this

I think we should let this thing take its course. Every once in a while, even I can see that things might be trying to improve in Richmond County BOE. Let's at least give them a chance, then we can blast them if they don't do the right thing. I agree with y'all who think that an exception should be made. Jasmine, hang in there for right now. I'm very proud of your hard work. Now if you could have a conversation with my son at ASU...

yeahitsme
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yeahitsme 04/25/07 - 07:51 am
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this is just sad this child

this is just sad this child worked her rear off trying to make it to the top becuase she believes in herself and now someone is trying to take that away from her. i hope that the board of education does change their mind beecause this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and she deserves it..

iwantit
0
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iwantit 04/25/07 - 08:02 am
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I believe that it is about

I believe that it is about time that Richmond County modifies a rule for a "GOOD" student. I have taught in Richmond county and witnessed them bending, changing, ignoring, omitting their own rules/policies when dealing with "BAD" behaving students. So if they are so inconsistent when following policy...... why can't they for a student who deserves recognition? Jasmine DID strive for the best and she has proved that. She is not spoiled,she worked hard, and she is realistic..... she IS no# 1 in her class. Therefore, Richmond County and all 5 states I have taught in would recognize her as the school's valedictorian.

Now... The real question you have to ask yourself is why would any county NOT want to hold this recognition on merit but instead on a some number of years you go to their school. ???

Jasmine ...You are the Valedictorian!!!!

MEME29829
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MEME29829 04/25/07 - 08:10 am
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in a time when teens are

in a time when teens are under more pressure than ever, this young lady has showed that you can excel if you put your mind to it. she deserves some kind of recognitioin. possibly making her an honorary validictorian would be a good idea.

KingJames
11
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KingJames 04/25/07 - 08:14 am
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From Mr. Scott and Ms.

From Mr. Scott and Ms. Minchew's comments, they seem to want to do the right thing. Even if the board can't or doesn't repeal this ridiculous rule, they should at least make an official declaration that Miss Thomas is the valedictorian. Congratulations, Miss Thomas, and best wishes for a bright future.

THESOUTHLOST
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THESOUTHLOST 04/25/07 - 08:20 am
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Boomer. The article said she

Boomer. The article said she would be a year behind if she had transferred. The reason would most likely had been due to the lateness of the school session. Your attempt to take away from this younglady's abilities will not work.

THESOUTHLOST
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THESOUTHLOST 04/25/07 - 08:21 am
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onehotdog. exactly what rule

onehotdog. exactly what rule did she not follow?

keepinitreal
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keepinitreal 04/25/07 - 08:24 am
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Jasmine sweetie, keep your

Jasmine sweetie, keep your head up and don't get discouraged now, you've come to far to think about your efforts being in vain. You will still be a part of history and no one or nothing can change that. Your proof is your efforts and abilities for what you have achieved and yet you are a role model for the young people today and future generations. Stay as you are because your recognition of ability will not go unnoticed and just think Jasmine, you are a legacy as well. Don't let the negative side of things by society and the government get you down honey, just keep on keepin on.

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