class that missed out, rather the class that endured."
School is harder for some than others. We all learn in different ways. Some of us learn independently far easier than we do in a collective. Some folks survive their early education, some thrive and some fight like hell to get through.
Succeeding for the valedictorian is not much different than succeeding as that student who struggled to just get passing grades. Both took perseverance and determination. Both reached a pinnacle of success.
Not every high school graduate wanted to be on that stage in front of hundreds of people, but they did all earn it. And their families earned it. To deny the importance of this would be wrong.
It’s not a simple expectation. By no means is there anything simple about it at all. For some it’s the first great test of fortitude that they will ever have in their life and when they have that cap and gown and put that tassel from one side of the mortar board to the other, that means a lot.
One notable thing returned - the handshake.