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Best in Class by Margaret Talbot

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Peanut Brittle

on 7 December 2012

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Transcript of Best in Class by Margaret Talbot

Summary “Best in Class” is a reflection on valedictorians emphasizing the stress placed on students and increased competition to reach the top of the class. The contest among the students is more intense and vigorous now than before. While “at one time, it was obvious who the best students in a school were,” but now with the more dynamic curriculum, “the contenders, for the valedictorian title, especially at large, top-performing suburban high schools, are numerous and determined” (Talbot 115). The essay explains the lengths and measures students will go in order to earn the honor and whether schools should continue using valedictorians at all and how many should be awarded. TIME TO DISCUSS by Margaret Talbot Best in Class Format Talbot's rhetorical strategy is exemplification. She relies heavily on interviews to give better examples on how tough the competition is to be valedictorians, and how far they are willing to go to earn that title. This allows the audience to appeal to the essay with logos since Talbot uses real-life situations and examples. Tone Talbot uses the responses of her interviews to rebuttal the views of the students and their schools to emphasize the importance of the valedictorian title. This makes her tone contemplative since she considers both sides of the issue. Presented by:
Jasmine, Antonio, Tonya, Tryston, Clarissa Purpose The writer's purpose is to create awareness and to inform the reader and the general public about the competition among valedictorians. "Becoming a valedictorian at a top high school is a gruelling trajectory -- involving perhaps a dozen A.P. classes and hours of study each night." (paragraph 29, pg. 121) •“…the contest for valedictorian offers a pleasing image of a purer meritocracy in which learning and performing by the rules leave one hard-working person standing...” (paragraph 31, pg. 121) •“I recently spoke to some students who had been involved in legal actions over the naming of a valedictorian, and they seemed to share a common attitude toward the experience. On the one hand, they shrugged off the importance of the honor- they had gone on to colleges where valedictorians were so plentiful that to have claimed bragging rights would have been seriously uncool.” (paragraph 19, pg. 117) Imagery Talbot uses detailed imagery in the first four paragraphs of the passage to draw the audience into her argument by appealing to the five senses. This allows her to keep the reader's attention by describing the setting of her essay similar to a story. "Kennedy, a wiry fifty-nine-year-old who has a stern buzz cut, was in 1997 the principal of Sarasota High School..." (paragraph 1, pg. 113) "As we drove past sugary-white beaches, high-rise hotels, and prosperous strip malls, he told me that the ensuing controversy 'effectively divided the school and the community.'" (paragraph 4, pg. 113) Diction Talbot's basic diction allows the reader to infer that she isn't targeting a specific audience. This emphasizes how her purpose is more achievable by reaching out to the general public. "...students were buttonholing him..." (paragraph 6, pg. 114) "Kennedy tried to broker a compromise." (paragraph 7, pg. 114) "Valedictorian is an antiquated title, and I think it has more negative connotations and effects than positive ones." (paragraph 10, pg. 115) "If you go to a really good school, you could be ranked a hundred and thirty-fourth in your class and still be a really good student..." (paragraph 13, pg. 115) "Miniscule differences between the ranks of two students can often be perceived as major differences. Is a student ranked No. 1 in a given class really the 'best' student in that class?" (paragraph 13, pg. 115)
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