MALVERNE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island high school was apologizing on Wednesday to two families, following an honor uproar when a mix-up over class ranking accidentally named the graduate in second place as class valedictorian.
Aalique Grahame was thrilled to discover he had the highest grade-point average in Malverne High School’s senior class. But that was only after his aunt who is raising him demanded scrutiny when her nephew was named salutatorian.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to be No. 1 and now that I finally got it I don’t think it is fair to me or my family that I have to share it,” Grahame said.
The mix-up over the top honors was blamed on human error — a missing semester when calculating class rank. Grahame actually had the higher GPA: 95.42. Classmate Sarah St. John’s was 95.16. The problem was St. John had already been named valedictorian.
“If Aalique really deserved it and he did beat me — if only by a little bit — then I don’t want to take it away from him,” St. John said.
Both students and some in the community said they feel disappointment now that the top honor will be shared. But the superintendent said it’s not that unusual and it’s the fair thing to do.
“We were taken by surprise when this was brought to our attention,” Malverne Schools Superintendent James Hunderfund said. “We corrected that and now we’re moving on.”
James Brown is the high school’s principal.
“Both are extremely exceptional young people. You won’t find two better individuals than Aalique and Sarah,” Brown said.
And Aalique and Sarah are friends, but to Aalique’s guardian a damper has been put on her family’s time of celebration.
“His place is the valedictorian and that’s where he should be,” Dorolyn Montgomery said. “He earned it. He worked hard.”
Grahame is the first African American male student to be named as a valedictorian of Malverne High School.
Malverne’s graduation is on June 24. Grahame and St. John will be named co-valedictorians. They have both been offered full scholarships to some of the best colleges in the nation.
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