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Absences Rob Teen of Valedictorian Slot

May 17, 2005

HOUSTON (AP) _ A high school senior, blocked from being valedictorian because she was hospitalized for part of her junior year, will be given the title of honorary valedictorian instead.

Despite her straight A’s, Karen Scherr was not eligible for the top slot in her graduating class at Kingwood High School because she missed the first six weeks of her junior year while under treatment for anorexia.

A student must be enrolled on the 20th day of junior year to be eligible to become valedictorian, according to school policy. Changing the policy retroactively would be unfair to other students, the district said.

School officials told Scherr, 18, and her family Monday that the honorary title was their best offer, district spokeswoman Karen Collier said. Scherr accepted the title on Tuesday.

Scherr said she had known she could lose the title, ``but in my teenager’s mind, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t have to happen.″ She said she did not want to risk her recovery by returning to school too soon or for the wrong reason.

The honorary title will allow Scherr to speak at her May 27 graduation, and her picture will be placed on the school’s ``Wall of Honor″ with that of the official valedictorian, Alex Gorham, whose grade average is a fraction lower than hers.

Gorham was one of the students lobbying for Scherr, saying she deserved to be valedictorian more than anyone after overcoming the life-threatening illness.

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