I remember the day like it was yesterday… which is fairly impressive, considering it was actually 17 years ago, to the day in fact. This momentous occasion of which I speak, on March 8th, 2000, was the date I was told by our high school principal that I was, in fact, “officially” the valedictorian of our senior class. 

I can’t say the news was a complete shock, as we had all been given informal ranks pending the start of the college application process several months prior. At the time, my guidance counselor had informed my parents and I that all paperwork sent out from the administrative offices would name me as “approximately” first, a fact that I had never even thought to consider up until that very moment. 

I had always enjoyed school and had accumulated a collection of Honors and Advanced Placement classes on my transcript by my senior year; but class rank was not something I had ever particularly focused my attention on. I knew it existed, obviously; but most colleges were more concerned with your overall GPA and SAT scores, not your comparison among a class of your peers.

As I rounded the corner on that afternoon, en route to our “rotunda” outside the cafeteria, I was startled to find the principal seated there next to one of my friends. “Oh good, you’re here,” he said. Uh oh, I thought. My mind raced, trying to determine what I could have done to warrant this unexpected visit. Next to him, my friend had a sly smile on his face. What is this about? I couldn’t imagine.

“I have some news,” he grinned, standing up and extending his hand in congratulations. “It’s official – you’re number one.”

And there it was. Twelve years of hard work and dedication, culminating in that moment, that handshake – and those five words. It was unforgettable, so much so that I chose to capture the instant in one of my college scholarship essays. The theme was “The Most Memorable Moment of My Life.” And it was; possibly, still is. 

The bell rang, signaling it was time to head to our next class. But I had something to do first. I raced over to the wall of pay phones by our front entrance, digging for quarters as I ran through the hallway (remember, this was 17 years ago). My hands shaking, I excitedly dialed my home number. “Mom!” I practically squealed into the receiver. “Guess what???”

Since then, that date has been ingrained in my mind. Each year, it comes and goes, bringing with it a smile as I recall all the happy memories of a moment that seems so fresh … and yet, so very, very long ago. Officially. 


{Published: March 8th, 2017}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment