Congress race, valedictorians, 80th anniversary

Published 8:41 am Thursday, June 2, 2016

Voters will decide a curious race next Tuesday — the Republican and Democratic primaries for the newly configured 13th district Congress.

Davie County, for once, could be a major player in a wide-open Congressional race with five residents among the laundry list of five Democrats and 17 Republican candidates. As of Tuesday afternoon, 446 had voted early at the Davie County Board of Elections office. An elections worker said the office has been surprised by the turnout for a race that didn’t figure to stir much interest.

One of the candidates sagely predicted that the one with the most cousins will win. Among the Davie candidates are county commissioner Dan Barrett, N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock, businessman Ted Budd of Advance, N.C. Rep. Julia Howard and WDSL owner Farren Shoaf.

Davie is smack in the middle of the new district that includes Davidson County and large parts of Iredell, Guilford and Rowan. How it turns out is anybody’s guess, but voters have no shortage of options.

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Finally, a Davie County High School controversy that doesn’t involve sports.

The controversy, if it can be labeled such, is when to name the graduating class valedictorian — not the sort of thing many would go to war over. But it’s important to those few involved. They have studied hard for four years, staying up late to write papers, solve difficult calculus problems and complete difficult assignments. They have established themselves as the best of the best — the pride of the county — the top few students among a class of more than 400.

Davie High has traditionally designated its class valedictorian at the end of the fall semester — sort of like declaring a winner with five minutes left in the game. That has never caused confusion … until this year. Because of some weighted college-level classes, there will likely be a minor reshuffling in the class academic ranks after the final grades are tallied. The top handful of students may flip positions, but the valedictorian and salutatorian have already been named. By now, the graduation speeches — by the top three grads — have been written by the students … and carefully screened by the principal.

This is one of those rare times when the rules and common practices did not anticipate a problem.

The differences among the top honor students can be measured in the hundredths of a point. They have largely taken the same classes and made all A’s.

The Davie administration has decided that it’s too late to alter the practice for this year, and that’s probably the only decision they could make. But if experience is the best teacher, it makes good sense to change it for next year.

Meanwhile, the term “valedictorian” may be vanishing from the landscape. High schools across the nation are revisiting the tradition of designating one student as the best because of the cutthroat, even suicidal competition at some schools. Increasingly, high schools are adopting the “cum laude” terminology employed by colleges to designate their top students. That would free some of the top academic students from the valedictorian treadmill they consider important for gaining admittance to top universities. Ironically, Davie has had its own committee to consider the change. It recommended adopting the “cum laude” system … but keeping the valedictorian designation.

And so it goes. Congratulations to the Class of 2016.

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Congratulations, also, to Daniel Furniture & Electric Co. of Mocksville on its 80th year. It’s remarkable for any business to survive so long. The Marklin family is now in its third generation with a fourth on its way. One of the Davie High grads next week will be Johnson Marklin IV, namesake of the partner of the business with the late Armand T. Daniel, who opened the store in 1936. It has always been at 848 S. Main St., even after a fire destroyed the building in 1983 on Friday, July 13th

Johnson and Lois Marklin bought Daniel’s interest in the business in 1953. Johnny and Betty Marklin succeeded them. Brother and sister Will Marklin and Melissa Marklin Rollins have been part of the enterprise since their childhoods. A well earned happy anniversary.

– Dwight Sparks