Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seven NYC Valedictorians

The Metro section of Sunday's New York Times featured brief profiles and a group interview with the seven NYC valedictorians pictured above ("In Uncertain Times, Valedictorians Look Ahead"). The print edition of the paper had the above photo on the front page of the section, and another group photo on p.6, where the article continued. The second group photo listed SAT scores and other info for each of the valedictorians. I showed Cheryl the first photo and asked her to guess which kids had the highest and lowest SAT scores, respectively. She guessed them both, based on the names and photos.

From the article,

These seven valedictorians — the five from public schools ranked highest in their class; Mr. Monsalve and Adrienne Edwards of the elite Spence School were selected to give the valedictory — are a tableau of American ideals1. Four are from immigrant families — Uzbekistan by way of Armenia, Colombia, the Dominican Republican and Lebanon. Their parents include an elevator mechanic, two hotel banquet servers and a limousine driver, along with the chairman of the neurology department at Mount Sinai Medical Center. They speak Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, a little Hebrew.

Like all good New Yorkers, they bemoan the subway system, the hordes and the city’s willful indifference to personal boundaries.

Although these young men and women all bemoan the subway system, none of them plans to do anything about it when they grow up: none plans to be a civil engineer, urban planner, politician, or work in another field where one might try to improve it. I find it interesting, too, that the writer notes the valedictorians all bemoan "the hordes and the city's willful indifference to personal boundaries". Something tells me that if a non-New Yorker expressed similar sentiments, a New York Times reporter would take offense.

Look at the profile of the young woman second from right:


LIVES IN St. Albans, Queens

COMING FROM Spence School, 49 seniors

GOING TO University of Pennsylvania

HOPES TO be a litigator


Outspoken and assertive, Adrienne commuted 90 minutes by bus and train to Spence, where she enrolled in 7th grade and was head of the hip-hop dance group and the multicultural awareness club. “I don’t think I’ll be able to function at my highest anywhere else but New York because I’ve met all my challenges and had all of my progressions here.”

Might Ms. Edwards be a nominee for the Supreme Court in 2040?

The photo above, of, from left, Jenae Williams, Jordano Sanchez, Adam Sealfon, Kristina Arakelyan, Christian Monsalve, Adrienne Edwards and Muhammad Safa, accompanies the article and is credited to Béatrice de Géa.

1At the risk of seeming picayune, am I the only one who finds this sentence poorly written? I think what the writer is trying to say is that two of the seven valedictorians (Monsalve and Edwards) tied for that top honor at the same school. She could have explained that clearly and simply in a brief parenthetical comment.

2These scores include the new SAT essay section. Unlike the SAT, the GMAT, which also has an essay section, lists the essay score separately: test-takers can earn a maximum score of 800 points on the objective, standardized test portion of the GMAT (the part schools care the most about) and on the essay section, get a separate score of 0-to-6, which is the average of the subjective assessment of two readers. The GMAT's approach makes more sense, in my opinion. Adding the score of a subjectively-graded section to the scores of two objectively-graded sections, as the SAT now does, seems to muddy the waters a bit.

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