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Blair Hornstine
June 11, 2003 10:04 AM   Subscribe

BlairHornstineFilter: everyone's favorite teen litigant strikes again. After winning solo valedictorian status in court, Blair will be skipping the graduation ceremony to avoid the "backlash" against her. Dang. (via ObscureStore)
posted by serafinapekkala (44 comments total)

 
I sense an effigy coming on...
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2003


People like her are the reason I hate overacheivers and strivers.
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on June 11, 2003


People like her are the reason I hate people like her.
posted by xmutex at 10:20 AM on June 11, 2003


The announcement came in the form of a letter sent Monday by Hornstine's lawyer,

What a great history current lesson. I won't face the masses, just my lawyer as me. Is the lawyer giving her speech as her proxy, what a waste. She didn't attend school, home schooled mostly & ruined not her graduation but her peers she sued.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:21 AM on June 11, 2003


You know, I really wonder if a high school athlete who sued on some technicality to get an award all for himself would be getting the same response as Blair Hornstine, even if he were also caught cheating somehow. I suspect that few outside of high school sports would care. The amount of journalistic and blog hostility aimed her way is very interesting. Perhaps journalists and bloggers tend to be smart people, so they feel a need to fall all over themselves to prove that they're not like those priggish nerds.
posted by transona5 at 10:21 AM on June 11, 2003


Nice try, transona5, but I don't buy it. If an athlete sued to be sole quarterback for the game, then was caught using illegal steroids but was still allowed to play, then once the other quarterback candidates had been banned from the field, refused to show up for the game, yeah, I think there'd be a bit of interest in that story.
posted by soyjoy at 10:25 AM on June 11, 2003


Eager as I am to see Harvard do the proper thing and rescind her admission, I can't help but feel sorry for the girl. There are some intelligent people who simply don't have the understanding of psychology necessary to behave appropriately. Had she accepted the "snub" of being a mere co-valedictorian, no one would have questioned the achievements necessary to place her at the top of the class, and she would have gone on along a gilded path to Harvard. Now she can't enjoy the honor she wanted (and it's been widely exposed that she really didn't deserve it anyway), Harvard and other elite schools may well bar her from attending, and wherever she goes people will remember her as greedy and dishonest.

If she doesn't get any money out of the school district, this pyrrhic victory could very possibly ruin her life. And while she deserves a pretty big comeuppance for the things she's done, she is just a kid.
posted by Epenthesis at 10:30 AM on June 11, 2003


You know, I really wonder if a high school athlete who sued on some technicality to get an award all for himself would be getting the same response as Blair Hornstine, even if he were also caught cheating somehow. I suspect that few outside of high school sports would care.

Well, the whole point of highschool is academics, while sports is tangental.
posted by delmoi at 10:32 AM on June 11, 2003


Sounds like she's emerged from high school perfectly capable of conducting herself in our miserable society.
posted by mert at 10:37 AM on June 11, 2003


Well, the whole point of highschool is academics, while sports is tangental.

Hmm. Obviously, you didn't go to school in Chicago's western suburbs.

Anyhow, I'm sure that the hypothetical quarterback would be ostracized in his home town. (And by "cheating," I'm not referring to Hornstine's GPA, which appears to be honestly obtained - I meant her apparent petty plagiarism in the town newspaper.) I don't think we'd see the ongoing national interest, though.
posted by transona5 at 10:42 AM on June 11, 2003


time for the school to conveniently discover some little-known bylaw that requires valedictorians be present at graduation elst forfeit their awards.

the idea of an effigy sounds rather pleasant as well.
posted by dorian at 10:52 AM on June 11, 2003


transona5 , the interest is, think of the children. This was allowed and look at the ending, sad in the wrong theme of things.
A tragedy that ended in a lager one.
PS:what sport did you play or letter?(band doesn't count);)
And she did cheat her GPA, excused from PE(iirc).
posted by thomcatspike at 10:52 AM on June 11, 2003


Hang on: isn't the whole ostensible purpose of the valedictorian to give the valedictory speech at graduation? In other words, she wanted the honor so much she was prepared to sue and plagiarize for it but now she's got it she won't execute the one responsibility it entails? Nice girl.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2003


Well, the whole point of highschool is academics, while sports is tangental.

yea, keep repeating that one over and over like a good little droid.
posted by quonsar at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2003


They want well rounded students. Yet you have some whom do it all or shine brightly in only one area these days. I had a college recruiter tell me: they know it is impossible to be in every club & sport as some put on their admission's forms; that they see through this. But do they?
posted by thomcatspike at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2003


Being excused from PE for an illness is not cheating, especially since it's common for schools to allow athletes to skip it. A weighted GPA system is like a progressive tax code - fairer but more easily manipulated. There tend to be many loopholes in these kinds of calculations that I'm sure Blair Hornstine was not the only student to exploit.

And it is amazing how this kind of thing can divide a town. We didn't have a valedictorian at all in high school, until a school board member whose daughter would have won waged a campaign. We had our first valedictorian my senior year (no, I wasn't even in the running) - the year after his daughter graduated.

what sport did you play or letter?

Um, does math team count?
posted by transona5 at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2003


I think in about five or ten years this girl is going to look back and realize what a bollocks she made of things. She will see that the petty lawsuit (which if I understand correctly was filed long after she was accepted into Harvard, which to me would be about the only reason to care about valedictorian status to begin with) which led to the unearthing of pretty clear cases of plagiarism, which in turn put her acceptance into Harvard into question and definitely damaged her reputation at said school, and was ill-advised and simply not worth it. Now it turns out that the resentment generated by this lawsuit has apparently made her feel persona non grata at her own graduation, and she's skipping. (Not to mention all the parties she will almost certainly not be welcome at, which is the most important part of graduation anyway.)

She will look back and see that she accomplished almost nothing with this lawsuit, and caused herself a large amount of grief in the process.

At least I hope so. She could very well have her blinders on so tightly she will think this was some sort of important victory for her.

If I was at that school, I would ask that her name be removed from the ceremony completely; since Blair seems willing to use the legal system to her perceived benefit but can't seem to deal with the real-world consequences such use engenders, why bring up her award at the ceremony at all? Mail it to her and be done with it. Removing her name would also prevent an ugly round of booing when the award was announced.
posted by deadcowdan at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2003


I hope the school lets Kenneth Mirkin, the "salutatorian," speak at graduation in Blair's place.
posted by mariko at 11:18 AM on June 11, 2003


If only, like Ms. Hornstine, we can all be no-shows at our own funerals...that would be shweet!
posted by LinusMines at 11:19 AM on June 11, 2003


Wait a minute, I'd like just a bit more detail here... can the school simply choose not to ackowledge the valedictorian if she's not attending the ceremony? Or is doing so even without her presence mandatory as per the lawsuit? If this means that Horstine is required to be recognized at a ceremony she's not even attending, I'm ready to join the Subconscious Homicidal Desires camp.

The irony of this is that the inherent definition of the Valedictorian is not the one with the highest GPA, but in fact the person who gives the Valedictory address at commencment- something you kinda have to be at the ceremony to do. You'd think a bright girl like Blair would realize that concept.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:22 AM on June 11, 2003


This just supports my theory that home schooling in no way prepares a person for socialization in the real world.

I still don't understand how she can claim to be too sick to attend school but then supposedly fill her day with volunteer activities. Why go to Harvard when you're so sick you'll need to be on disability your whole life. The real world is a lot more exhausting than high school.

Someone created this beast. I blame the parents.

Deadcow, you assume she would have been invited to the parties if none of this had happened.
posted by archimago at 11:26 AM on June 11, 2003


Being excused from PE for an illness is not cheating, especially since it's common for schools to allow athletes to skip it.
Yes, you do skip PE when on a team if you choose to. Most attend study hall during that period. My coaches took attendance and gave us a grade in our sport. You have to meet a credit limit by either attending PE, sports, band or choir at my high. Yet she had time for all these other extra-extracurricular activities in her life but PE or a substitution(don't recall any from past articles). Again her illness does not fly with extra-extraterritorial activities unless she was dong them from the bedside.

Transona5, Yes, I'll give you math club. Word problems always gave me the sweats.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2003


can the school simply choose not to ackowledge the valedictorian if she's not attending the ceremony

I suspect that if they want to keep the massed booing and hissing off of the four dozen camcorder recordings that'll be made, that's exactly what they'll do. Let the salutorian give the speech, quickly mumble something about the valedictorian in passing and mail her the damn certificate. Third class.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:44 AM on June 11, 2003


extraterritorial where did that come from, but describes her, she was too ill to get out of bed, but made the rounds of the world.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2003


I don't think she should have been discriminated against for her illness, but it seems like she (or her parent) is being a real brat show-off smartypants me-me-me about it.

At my high school (class of '98) we had a 'Top 10' (not disclosed at the ceremony who was where), an 'Outstanding 4 Achievement' (excellence in 3 of the 4: academics, community service, student groups, or athletics), and a graduation speaker, open to the entire class, selected by a faculty panel. Reduces the competition a lot that way.
posted by gramcracker at 11:46 AM on June 11, 2003


I know a lot of schools try to reduce the competition with creative alternative schemes, but for me, nothing replaces the traditional valedictorian. I grew up watching those Chicago TV spots showing all the local valedictorians, with the song that went "You're the best - of the class - this year." It's a tradition that puts academics first for a change, even if the actual winner is questionable (ours was hardworking and very deserving, although she did get out of gym by doing a sport.)

thomcatspike - Don't forget about those intense math relay competitions!
posted by transona5 at 11:59 AM on June 11, 2003


This just supports my theory that home schooling in no way prepares a person for socialization in the real world.

This whole mess has been about rabid levels of competitiveness within the framework of a fundamentally competitive school system, and you want to blame it on homeschooling? What she was doing is not homeschooling, it was a tutorial arrangement within the existing public school system.

Blame her parents if you want to (it sounds like they deserve it), but understand that homeschooling is frequently something that parents do to get their kids away from the grade-based baby rat race of formal schooling.
posted by blissbat at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2003


Have seen home school kids whom played team sports too; she ruined more than one thing here.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2003


dang spell chk;who have played team sports
posted by thomcatspike at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2003


Well, the whole point of highschool is academics, while sports is tangental.

Wrong.

The point of school is to prepare children to be functional members of our country.

That preparation is more than academic. A blend of academic, athletic, and social training and experience is the goal of schooling.

Focus on pure academics leads to inept wallflowers that can't work in teams or handle stressful situations. Leadship and teamwork skills are just important as academic skills for succeeding in any life path.

Ms. Hornstine's parents seem to disagree and feel that academic success is worth utter social ostricism (sp?).
posted by Argyle at 12:28 PM on June 11, 2003


The point of school is to prepare children to be functional members of our country.

Wrong. That is what schools have become, a panacea for society's problems. The manifest function of a school is to educate. Anything after that is a latent function.

What she was doing is not homeschooling, it was a tutorial arrangement within the existing public school system.

She was schooled at home. Reads like homeschooling to me.


This whole mess has been about rabid levels of competitiveness within the framework of a fundamentally competitive school system

Actually this whole mess has been about one misguided child and the parents who failed her.
posted by archimago at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2003


This girl has built up some seriously bad karma. I hope some gumshoeing newsie somewhere tracks her down when she's a senior in college (in all probability, not at Hahvahd) to ask her what fresh perspectives, if any, time has given her on her experience with notoriety.
posted by alumshubby at 12:49 PM on June 11, 2003


...about rabid levels of competitiveness within the framework of a fundamentally competitive school system...

...home schooling in no way prepares a person for socialization...

...in about five or ten years this girl is going to look back and realize what a bollocks she made of things...

you are all wrong. what you are observing is the larval emergence of the vastly powerful and successful neocon attorney insect. someone pass me that can of raid.
posted by quonsar at 12:54 PM on June 11, 2003


Did anyone mention the fact that she is very, very ugly?
posted by jon_kill at 1:08 PM on June 11, 2003


No - in fact, I can't believe it's taken over thirty posts for someone to attack her appearance.
posted by transona5 at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2003


Correction: four threads to attack her appearance.

To the best of my knowledge.
posted by jon_kill at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2003


I'm a little sick of Blair's Which project myself, but TCS managed to sum up my own high school experience quite nicely:

A tragedy that ended in a lager one.
posted by yhbc at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2003


Couldn't care less about her looks. "Misguided child" my ass - "selfish indulgent pain in the ass" is more like it. Yep, her parents are part of the problem - but she's the beast, after all. Some individual culpability would be nice.

I hope the salutorian gets to speak in her place. I hope her name isn't mentioned in the ceremony - why cause more pain to this class because of this twit's behavior?

As for competition, academic or athletic, there's nothing wrong with it; this has little to do with competition and more to do with the commercialization of education. She wasn't suing because she was somehow cheated out of being valedictorian; she sued because she didn't want to share being valedictorian. Why?

Because it's worth money, and she didn't want to dilute her market value. College is expensive, she wants to enter a privileged career path, and scholarships are hard to come by - this way, she looks that much better when it comes time to figure out how much cash to pony up.

The fact that she is now hated within her community, because she basically destroyed the rest of her class by clawing her way to the top, is just a perk. Heck, she doesn't even have to attend graduation - she can just walk away from the damage she caused, without even so much as a twinge of guilt. She's the "victim", after all. Don't forget the cash she gets out of this, too, as a result of her settlement.

This twit screwed her entire class to ensure her personal success - it's not a problem, it's the (current) American way!
posted by FormlessOne at 1:24 PM on June 11, 2003


Now that this story is coming up again, I don't think the lawsuit was so petty. In saying that her GPA was inflated by the lack of PE, the school was basically saying that her home-schooling was of lower quality than a public school.

This actually reminds me of something that happened to me in high school.

There was a big French competition (yeah, I know), and three people from my school -- including myself -- were set to go. We could only send two, so we had to fight it out. I scored second highest, but the guy who came in third was the teacher's favourite (and also an all-round nice guy), so they picked him. I was like, "Well, crap. But you can't fight the system." He was like, "you teachers suck. I withdraw." So in the end, I was sent, and placed 11th overall because I am a superstar, or was 10 years ago.

The school basically changed its policy because it thought its valedictorian should be someone the student body is familiar with, or likes. That's fine, but to do it retroactively is like writing an official letter saying, "we hate you, home-schooled kid." Damn French teachers.
posted by hammurderer at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2003


Heck, she doesn't even have to attend graduation
Right, she should have her graduation ceremony at her school, her backyard...

Don't forget the cash she gets out of this, too, as a result of her settlement.

Can she be countered sued for not going through with her original intentions(lead to the suit)? I can prove it if the court will allow "the writing on the wall" for its basis. Especially when you look at her history of quitting after winning. She is the definition of a poor winner: one whose wants are the prize but defeats after winning.
[wished I'd saved my rope burn joke for her]
posted by thomcatspike at 2:11 PM on June 11, 2003


"The point of school is to prepare children to be functional members of our country."

Wrong. That is what schools have become, a panacea for society's problems. The manifest function of a school is to educate. Anything after that is a latent function.


Er, wrong. I've studied the history of education. Schools got their start for the explicit purposes of (a) creating a skilled working-class population that would participate in the industrialization of society; (b) indoctrinating immigrants into this society.

Even before the advent of centralized public schooling, schooling was for preparing children to be functional adults: the wealthy had private tutors for their children not for sick kicks, but because their children needed skills in languages, maths, politics, and social graces in order to function effectively as a wealthy citizen.

Public schooling got its start with the industrial revolution, when the skills you casually picked up as a farmer or crafts apprentice weren't skills that were particularly useful for working in a factory.

The factory skill set required set working hours, submission to figures of authority, acceptance of tedious work, and commonly required a bit of reading, writing, and math skills. Quelle surprise! This is just like school!

There is very little about school that isn't about making children into good workers and good citizens.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:21 PM on June 11, 2003


UPDATE! The salutorian kid will be delivering an address in Blair's stead at the ceremony. In other news, more than 2,000 Harvard students have signed an online petition to have her acceptance withdrawn, and thanks to coverage by the Crimson if she does matriculate in September it promises to be a bumpy ride. ouch.
posted by serafinapekkala at 7:09 AM on June 12, 2003


everyone's favorite teen litigant...

This phrase reminded me that Blair should meet the Star Wars kid. They may have more in common than they think. And a happy ending could resolve both of their troubled stories. Awww.
posted by soyjoy at 10:10 AM on June 12, 2003


Jenny Hussong, who has known Hornstine since sixth grade and roomed with her on the senior trip to Disney World, said her friend was playing it safe by staying away from graduation in such a heated environment.

"Blair has received numerous death threats," Hussong wrote in an e-mailed response. "Unfortunately, in the age of school shootings, such matters cannot be ignored. . . . During a school assembly, one boy stood up and said, 'I'd like to rip out her jugular. . . .' He may have been kidding, but others may not have."


All right, this is going way too far. I thought it perfect justice that Ms. Hornstine couldn't attend her graduation because of the reception she knew she'd get. I want her to lose her $2.7 million lawsuit against the school district and get scolded by the judge. I'd even like to see Harvard rescind her application because of her foray into journalism/plagiarism - or maybe given those $2,000 signatures she'll decide to go elsewhere. But death threats? I hope this is just a bunch of teenagers talking stupid.
posted by orange swan at 10:18 AM on June 12, 2003


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