Top HS student fights for valedictorian spot - FOX 32 News Chicago

Top HS student fights for valedictorian spot

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Ladarius Sapho Ladarius Sapho
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A Maywood student has the best grade point average at Proviso East High School. Yet, he is told he can't be valedictorian. The student is now fighting school administrators over a policy they claim is on the books, but doesn't seem to exist.

"I have to be the best. Myself and me. I have to be the best I can be," said Maywood student Ladarius Sapho.

It's that drive to be number one, and a whole lot of smarts, that landed 18-year-old Sapho at the very top of the list at Proviso East High School. His weighted grade point average was 4.135, which is better than an "A" because of all the honors classes he took.

"I was gonna be number one, valedictorian of 2014. I was going to be giving the speech at graduation," said Sapho.

However, last week, both him and the school's number two student, the salutatorian, got called to the office for some bad news.

Principal Tony Valente told them they didn't qualify for the honors, because both students started at the school as sophomores after moving into the district. Policy requires that they must have attended for at least seven semesters to get the titles.

"You’re gonna tell me just two weeks before graduation? I had a speech ready, I was ready to give this speech, practicing and he tells me I can't be number one," added Sapho.

Community advocate Antoinette Gray has been working to help Sapho get the title he earned.

“There is no policy," said Gray. "They have been asked not once, but two or three times to produce that written policy. And the reason that was given by Tony Valente, the school principal, was that it was his discretion to make that decision."

A district spokesman told FOX 32 the policy is on the district's website, but we couldn't find it either.

"You’re teaching the kids something wrong. You're teaching them you can work hard, but it's okay for somebody else to get the credit," said Bridgette Peterson who is a mother.

Graduation is Saturday and Sapho will continue to fight for the valedictorian spot.

"I’m gonna fight this, because I worked hard. I worked hard these past three years. And all this is gonna go down the toilet because of a policy no one has seen," said Sapho.

The school has offered to make him a co-valedictorian, but without official recognition or giving a speech. He said no thanks.

Also, he has already accepted a full ride scholarship to college in Hawaii, where he plans to study to become a neurosurgeon.

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