A record-breaking 48 students will be valedictorian at Central Magnet High School in Rutherford County this year. That adds up to a quarter of the 193 graduating students from the school recently ranked number one in Tennessee by U.S. News and World Report.
"It's an honor to be a valedictorian, but even more so at Central," said junior student Morgan Elrod-Erickson. "48 is a lot of valedictorians, but compared to the size of the class, it’s not everybody."
Elrod-Erickson is well on his way to becoming one of the school's valedictorians next year.
Rutherford County requires students to meet several standards to be named valedictorian or salutatorian, including earning the highest GPA from grades 9-12, complete a minimum of 12 hours of honors classes, and meet the state's requirements to graduate with distinction.
"If you stick any one of the valedictorians in another public high school, they would probably be the one valedictorian there," said 2017 valedictorian Lauren Nichols. "So it's not fair to restrict that here."
Students say sharing the title of valedictorian with classmates doesn't make the honor less meaningful and that successes should be celebrated.
"Everyone is working really hard to achieve what they want to do," Elrod-Erickson said.