The culture of comparison. That’s what some people believe high school ranking is all about today.

Many students view the system as archaic and one that does not accurately represent their academic achievements. And here in the Gate City, it looks like our public schools could eventually eliminate this longtime tradition. Now, school officials are looking at a task force to study whether Nashua’s high schools should keep their existing class ranking system.

I grew up in a time when academic competition was seen as good, healthy and normal among students. There are super smart teens and others who aren’t and those who fall in between. That’s life. Some students focus on placement and taking AP classes to secure their ranking, and others do not. And that’s OK, too.

Doing away with class rank reminds me of giving every kid a participation trophy. “Aww, there you go, Sally and Sam. You can proceed to the head of the class, also.”

Bedford High School “does not announce its valedictorian and salutatorian during graduation, nor do those students conduct speeches at commencement,” according to a recent article by the Union Leader’s Kimberly Houghton.

To be honest, I am surprised by this, but I don’t have a horse in this race, so maybe I’m not being fair to those dedicated and loving parents who try hard to ensure their children remain at the top of their class.

And Bedford High School is not alone. Across the country, the trend continues among high schools that are eliminating class rank or not sharing those numbers with colleges.

I believe there is value in the high school ranking system, but times change. Even Dartmouth College is forgoing tradition. In its Class of 2018, the institution revealed that only a third of its students came from high schools that provided class rankings.

Here’s another possible alteration to a system that has piqued my interest.

We all know that special elections in the Gate City draw little excitement. All you have to do is check out the results from the contest held last March to fill the recent vacancy left by the passing of longtime Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy. Ben Clemons defeated Fred Teeboom with a vote of 3,017 to 1,428.

That’s a tiny segment of the voting population that bothered to turn out. But all was not lost. According to Nashua City Clerk Patricia Piecuch, 40 new voters were registered that day, bringing up the new total of registered voters to 57,868.

Some could make the argument that holding special elections still cost the city big money, Now, city officials are considering doing away with special elections because of dismal voter turnout. Instead, new members would be appointed when such openings occur.

I hope that doesn’t happen. I believe it’s democracy in action despite the few voters who cast ballots in a special election.

If Clemons had defeated Teeboom by a vote of 10-1, the results would still be valid.

It makes me wonder why we have to make things so easy and convenient today.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at