Top 100 students discuss the impacts of class rankings


The top 25 students of the class of 2025 stand in front of the audience with their awards. Each student was called up one by one, having their name and yearbook photo displayed on screens to the side of the stage.

Cailyn Robertson

On Monday, the top 100 students, 25 of each class, were rewarded for their academic achievements in the annual Tribute to Academic Excellence. All students received a commemorative frame, while the seniors acknowledged a teacher who impacted their high school experiences.

Many high schools rank students based on their academics. The system allows a student’s prospective colleges to evaluate how the student has performed compared to others in their class. 

That intended purpose restricts the system to high school grades, meaning each year’s freshmen have no experience with class rankings until they view their unofficial transcript at the end of their first high school semester.

Sade Okeyemi, named one of the top 25 in the class of 2026, claims in seeing her rank, her views on her academics changed. In seeing her class rank, Okeyemi saw how her academics compare to her peers for the first time.

“I’ve definitely viewed academics as more of a challenge, but it’s definitely something that brings more passion in me,” Okeyemi said.

The knowledge of being one of the top students in her class will serve as motivation for the remainder of her freshman year and, hopefully, through her graduation. But motivation can turn into pressure.

“It definitely encourages me to be better and think of the future, like seeing the seniors. But it’s also pressure, I have to make sure that it does not get to me,” Okeyemi said.

Added pressure to excel in academics is a new feeling for the class of 2026, who are experiencing the ranking system for the first time. But, to the older classes, it has become a natural part of their high school experience.

“The ranking system puts a lot of pressure on people, but I guess that’s just how it is,” top 25 member of the class of 2025 Nola Boyle said.

The class rank system is bound to stir up competition between students, which class of the 2023 top 25 member Linnea Anderson has noticed.

“I think that it gets so political. A lot of the kids get big heads about it and they’ll ask you what your number is. It really doesn’t matter that much, because usually the difference between number 1 and 25 is .004 on the GPA scale,” Anderson said.

This pressure and hint of competition encourages students to choose academics over leisure activities. They sacrifice their free time to complete assignments in full, void of rush and sloppiness.

“I feel like I have to absolutely prioritize academics over things, like sleep sometimes, or going out or doing other things,” Boyle said.

It is also important to enjoy the freedom of being a teenager, though. The top students have found ways to offer relief from academic burdens by joining extracurricular activities or simply knowing when it is time to put aside their studies without affecting their academic performance.

“One of my favorite things that I do is that after 7 p.m. every day, I stop working unless the workload is really bad. That way I have time to not do work and unwind,” Boyle said.

Anderson claims that, in starting high school off on the right track, students can be relieved of a portion of their stresses upon entering their junior and senior years.

“I took a lot more harder classes in my underclassmen years, and now I feel like I’ve been able to relax because of that. Stay dedicated and get through the hard part now and then you can relax senior year,” Anderson said.

Amid academic pressures, these students rely on ceremonies such as the Tribute to Academic Excellence to remind them why they put the amount of effort they do towards academics.

“It felt good to be recognized for all of my hard work and it encouraged me to continue,” Okeyemi said. 

Anderson found it encouraging to not only be recognized, but to thank a teacher for their impact on her academics.

“I think things like the top 25 ceremony and seeing my teacher who I got to recognize, seeing how that made her feel to be recognized as someone who had an impact in my life, that made me really happy,” Anderson said.

She also notes that, in the end, rankings will not be as important as enjoying the high school experience. With extracurriculars and clubs available to students, there is more to high school than being top of the class.

“Numbers, top 25 and ranking don’t really matter. What matters is doing your best and putting yourself out there,” Anderson said.