Skip

America's most (in)famous valedictorian makes the media big time
June 18, 2003 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Blair Hornstine makes Newsweek magazine. Just not in the way she would have liked, I'm sure. An impartial look at the situation, the day before her class graduation ceremonies proceed without her. Oh, and by the way, the salutatorian will speak, and the students are trying to stay positive and don't want the subject to come up tomorrow, thank you very much. So enjoy your day, kids.
posted by pmurray63 (62 comments total)

 
HornstineFilter
posted by psmealey at 3:05 PM on June 18, 2003


In what way does this merit a FPP? Just wondered...
posted by cbrody at 3:07 PM on June 18, 2003


A different student might have gained her classmates’ sympathy. But Hornstine apparently suffered from a second, more damaging disability: unpopularity. The pretty daughter of a well-to-do judge, Hornstine appeared to like helping inner-city kids more than partying with her classmates.


LOL, yeah right. I she's 'pretty' she certainly isn't photogenic. Unpopularity doesn't come from unavailability, it can come from many things. Including general bitchyness.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on June 18, 2003


That was a really good article. Kudos to a mainstream media source for uncovering the bullying she's had to put up with and actually taking it seriously. Whether or not she was in the right in her lawsuit, it was inexcusable for all those local newspapers that made not-so-subtle insinuations about her character and personality not to mention it.

The "trying to stay positive" link reminded me of that "Columbine Students Resume Bullying" article in the Onion.
posted by transona5 at 3:11 PM on June 18, 2003


sorry, that should read 'if she's 'pretty' she....
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on June 18, 2003


What? nol book and movie deal yet? she needs an agent. Quick.
posted by Postroad at 3:14 PM on June 18, 2003


On the one hand, misguided ambition. On the other, she's horribly unpopular.

Why this one? Why did this particular case gain nationwide exposure? More to the point, WHO EFFIN' CARES? I mean, granted it's a silly stupid thing to sue about, but why is this case making national headlines?

Five comments in and we're already making cracks about her appearance. Way to go!
posted by solistrato at 3:17 PM on June 18, 2003


The Blair Hornstine Project
posted by DBAPaul at 3:25 PM on June 18, 2003


278-member senior class and singles out 22 graduates.

Hope her life makes a complete U-turn with her in it not anyone else. Just herself living her life for her because she never has. But wonder now, will she still be going away to school, because that may be her ticket to get on with her own life.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:26 PM on June 18, 2003


Kids don't hire lawyers, parents do...especially parents who are already lawyers. Whether or not she went along with the idea, this is a classic case of overzealous parents really screwing up their kid's life.

For anyone who feels like ganging up on her, she's seventeen years old, eighteen tops. Even if she was a willing participant in a dumb-ass lawsuit--anyone here want some of your brilliant seventeen-year-old decisions plastered across the nation's newspapers?

The people who think this doesn't belong here is right--she should be left alone (and we should all stop making fun of the kids we used to be).
posted by LairBob at 3:28 PM on June 18, 2003


I hope that when she's at Harvard, I run into her on the T so that I can tell her that she's revolting.

Scratch that-- I'm sure that she's too good for public transportation.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:30 PM on June 18, 2003


Dude, I so wouldn't hit that.
posted by xmutex at 3:56 PM on June 18, 2003


nah, can't imagine why they'd hate her.

Hornstine and her laywer are now seeking $2.5 to $2.7 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages. Note that next year's school budget for Moorestown will be $50.2 million dollars. If successful, her lawsuit will represent nearly 5% of next year's school budget.
posted by wah at 3:58 PM on June 18, 2003


And I'm sure that's why her fellow students taunted her to the point of tears in middle school. This article confirms what I've always suspected about this: she doesn't particularly care about this lawsuit ruining her social standing because she has always been treated with contempt and cruelty by the fine folk of Moorestown.
posted by transona5 at 4:01 PM on June 18, 2003


she has always been treated with contempt and cruelty by the fine folk of Moorestown.

Maybe she deserves it. Seriously. I hate to point it out, but sometimes ostracism is warranted. If everyone dislikes you, consider shaping up. Except in the case of your parents, affection has to be earned.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:07 PM on June 18, 2003


You know, something I think is interesting is this:
Which probably explains why superintendent Paul Kadri was approached repeatedly throughout the year by parents and students who complained that Hornstine’s home tutoring created an uneven playing field in the race for valedictorian. Kadri says he agreed, recommending that the school board amend its policy to allow multiple valedictorians.

Blair Hornstine and her parents are the only ones who went to court over this but apparently other parents were worked up enough about the whole issue to complain to the Superintendent to get the rules changed in favour of their children. Bitching to the school superintendent is baby steps away from filing an actual lawsuit - in fact, I'd put good odds on at least one of those parents having at least threatened to sue if they didn't get their way. So whiny Blair's victory is over some other whiny kid and his parents. I guess her whiny family is just a little more dedicated to their cause.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:10 PM on June 18, 2003


And fantasizing about making nasty comments to a seventeen-year-old girl on the subway is a big step in that direction.
posted by transona5 at 4:12 PM on June 18, 2003


I think there may be a bit too forceful a recognition in some people's vitriol. In either of two forms:

1) They remember that girl, the brainy, active, involved supergenius with the bad clothes and the seriousness bordering on extreme humorlessness.

2) They were that girl.

I'd also like to know: if it had been a male student, would this even be an issue? Would he be as derided and mocked as her?
posted by solistrato at 4:18 PM on June 18, 2003


Ok, stupid high school politics, blah blah...

WHAT DOES FPP STAND FOR?! PLEASE!
posted by zekinskia at 4:19 PM on June 18, 2003


Heh. Yeah, I was. And as for a male student, I think we'd hear exactly the same, except for the appearance comments.
posted by transona5 at 4:21 PM on June 18, 2003


Zekinskia, FPP=Front Page Post
What's good and what's bad according to Mr Haughey.
posted by tdstone at 4:35 PM on June 18, 2003


I think there may be a bit too forceful a recognition in some people's vitriol.

This could all-to-easily turn into a bitch session about high school politics and over-eager parents (if it isn't, already), especially since I grew up in New Jersey, as well.

If anyone here was that girl, no doubt the vitriol comes from the fact that she never sued anyone to get her way.

Also, I don't remember "that girl" wearing bad clothes. If I remember correctly, "that girl" couldn't shut up about how much money her parents spent on her clothes.
posted by deanc at 4:43 PM on June 18, 2003


Well, I would never have sued over something like this, but it's not always an out-of-line response. I especially respect anyone who sues a school that does nothing to prevent student harassment. In Blair's case, the teachers wanted a more popular student to give the speech, so her judge father decided to sue. It was probably not worth getting that worked up over, and anyone who cares that much about who gets to be valedictorian will be an easy target for ridicule.
posted by transona5 at 5:03 PM on June 18, 2003


This whole thing has been a total disaster...but it breaks my heart she won't be at her own graduation, right, wrong or indifferent. You only graduate from high school once. Nobody wins here.
posted by konolia at 5:16 PM on June 18, 2003


they WAY downplayed the plagiarism thing. It's ridiculous to make claims that she just didn't use proper footnotes or something - she blatantly took passages from other people's mediocre speeches about the meaning of thanksgiving etc, interspersing a few of her own words here and there. It was not borderline. It was classic textbook plagiarism (well, not "textbook plagiarism" but "textbook" plagiarism... you know what I mean).

I've commented on the other howevermany threads about this case, but I don't think that article was particularly evenhanded myself. They were pretty nice to her.
posted by mdn at 5:21 PM on June 18, 2003


"You only graduate from high school once."

Yep, tell that to the 250+ other students as well whose graduation moment is going to be overshadowed by this pseudo-controversy. Or next year's students, who will have to see 1/20th of their school budget vanish because of this whiny twit? Or the school, who will now have to rethink the whole idea of valedictorian/salutorian, or of aiding students with disabilities?

Why does this foolish girl and her foolish parents still deserve an FPP? This is what, the fifth thread on this subject? Let it die - she's done enough damage.
posted by FormlessOne at 5:50 PM on June 18, 2003


But it breaks my heart she won't be at her own graduation, right, wrong or indifferent.

I turned up to my high-school graduation to be told that I wouldn't be allowed on stage to collect any prizes because I had a hole in my pants, which "gave the school a bad image". They offered me a "compromise" in the form of a pair of pants from lost property to wear but, hey, the last thing a seventeen-year-old kid is going to do is go up in front of the school in a pair of dorky borrowed pants, and so I went home. My mother was extremely upset.

It turns out they skipped all the awards which mentioned my name.

I stopped caring after about 2 hours, once I remembered I would never have to set foot in high school again.

I did not sue the school for 2.7 million dollars.
posted by dydecker at 5:56 PM on June 18, 2003


I'd also like to know: if it had been a male student, would this even be an issue? Would he be as derided and mocked as her?


It might be sexist of me, but I honstly can't even imagine that. I suspect that a guy would recive even worse ridicule. In our sociaty we kind of expect men to 'suck it up' while women get a free (or at least low-cost) pass to be 'hysterical'


Honestly I think that the jornalist was trying to be even-handed but they came across as being more 'pro blair'. The jornalist glossed over a few of the major complaints, and neglected the fact that all of the validctorians had practicaly-perfict GPAs.
posted by delmoi at 5:58 PM on June 18, 2003


wow, did I really just read a court document about this case. oy!

From that document it does look possible that the school was going to skip over her and give the award to someone else, although it seems that a 'co' award should have stopped this thing cold. Also, K.M. could have been the only one 'considered' (and sent a letter) since that consideration was based on a change of policy. A look at the historical procedures for informing potential valedictorians could clear up this point.

On the weighting, K.M. (the second place guy), through the benefit of two more AP classes and three less Honors classes, had a .5 bonus to his total scoring.

The big question is the consideration for the illness. The defendant felt the home-schooling was a undue advantage. Personally I think this holds merit given the history of normal bullshit B.H. had been given previously during her school years. The judge disagreed, arguing that the ADA and the chronic fatigue syndrome essentially balance out. This is the main point of contention, the school and general public felt she was being given advantage. The court felt this advantage was merited by the law to address her physical disadvantage and could not be used for further consideration.

The court did not address the advantage given by being removed from a stressful social situation, allowing an already gifted student to not have to deal with the 'regular folks' that might distract her. But that would be rather difficult to make a legal argument (ianal, but I sleep with one)...unless you're talking about the court of public opinion where snobbery carries a whole bunch of weight.

As does using a currently elevated social status and lawyers to climb higher. And the plagiarism thing didn't really help much.

Conclusion : In the eyes of the law she earned it. In the eyes of the school (read: superintendent), she earned it but did so under a different environment than the rest of the students, which caused contention and some felt was unfair. So they did something, she brought this something to the attention of the law, and the law ruled.

In the real world, however, high school don't mean shit and I hate myself for having read so much about this. It was interesting to read about how this case and PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin intersect, which is mainly about that advantage/disadvantage stuff mentioned earlier. But other than that...blah.

BTW, here's the girl and some unrelated quotes, for the ridiculously curious.
posted by wah at 6:00 PM on June 18, 2003


This whole thing has been a total disaster...but it breaks my heart she won't be at her own graduation, right, wrong or indifferent. You only graduate from high school once. Nobody wins here.

Yeah, but really, how important is a high school graduation for most people, let alone her? She'll most likely graduate from a prestigious University, then probably attend and graduate from a prestigious graduate/professional program. A high school graduation is small potatoes compared to what else she'll probably accomplish.
posted by gyc at 6:41 PM on June 18, 2003


gyc, how important it is in the long run is completely irrelevant. In the long run (as they say) we're all dead. The question is how important it is at the time, which for almost everyone is very. You may have been too cool to care; she obviously isn't.
posted by languagehat at 7:28 PM on June 18, 2003


I would have given anything not to have to go to my HS graduation because 1) It was lame, and 2) I was hungover.
Who knew all I had to do was sue?
posted by oflinkey at 7:31 PM on June 18, 2003


I wish her the best in life and hope she wins the lawsuit.
posted by bargle at 7:43 PM on June 18, 2003


>>The question is how important it is at the time, which for almost everyone is very.<<

Funny, I thought developing a sense of perspective (about life in general, and especially about ridiculous high school political games) was part of growing up. I didn't think the world as a whole was even a little bit obligated to care about something just because it's tremendously important to a particular individual. Too bad the parents of Moorestown are setting such a wonderful example for their kids.
posted by kewms at 8:05 PM on June 18, 2003


dydecker, you win the gold star - what a great story.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:30 PM on June 18, 2003


I am glad that a hired gun, her family's influence, and the legal system were able to iron a small imperfection out of her otherwise charmed existence.

A possibly devastating financial blow to the school district is certainly fit punishment for making her feel even a little less special than daddy always told her she was.

BTW, some of you thought that article was even handed? Reminded me of a Katie Couric interview. I actually wondered aloud if a family friend wrote it.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:32 PM on June 18, 2003


I'm not very familiar with the structure of legal documents like the one wah linked. Can someone explain quickly to me, in the Facts and Procedural History section, is that something the judge wrote to summarize the cases of the plaintiff and defendant? Because it reads to me like Superintendent Kadri really had it in for her. If it was written by her attorneys as part of their filings, then, sure, it's biased, but if that's the unbiased reading by the judge of the facts of the case, then I suddenly switch my opinion to 100% behind Blair Hornstine. The kind of tricks and crap he was going through to deliberately make her not the valedictorian makes me wonder what the hell his problem was. What an evil and scheming little man.

I thought it very interesting that in some of the original coverage that came out it was suggested that Blair Hornstine had an insurmountable mathematical lead on her peers on the basis of weighting, what with the whole gym class issue. But that legal document notes that Kevin Martin, who was next in line, actually had the weighting advantage over Blair Hornstine. He could have beat her if his marks had been better. Other students could have taken the classes he took and beat her if their marks had been better.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:53 PM on June 18, 2003


I'm just wondering how she's going to get through college - will she have professional one-on-one tutoring the whole way through? If she needed it in high school, she needs it in college, right?
posted by beth at 10:36 PM on June 18, 2003


it reminds me of the south park where the kids all started suing the school and each other.

it's kind of sad that she started a prom dress drive for the less fortunate and probably didn't get to go to her own prom.
posted by centrs at 11:19 PM on June 18, 2003


jacquilynne - the judge wrote that. it's a summary of the case leading up to her decision to grant the restraining order. i just read it and it does sound like the guy had it in for her and she has a real or at least undisputed disability.
posted by centrs at 11:33 PM on June 18, 2003


The question is how important [attending HS graduation] is at the time, which for almost everyone is very.

It's dangerous to generalize. To me, graduation from HS, college, and professional school were annoyances. You dress in stupid clothing, sit in a hot room, and listen to platitudinous speeches, and wait endlessly while your peers troop across a stage in said stupid clothing to receive a piece of rolled up bristol board pretending to be a diploma, the real version of which will arrive by USPS in a week.

I just don't get 'ceremony'. It doesn't resonate with me. Learning is important. Living with what you've learned and making your career, doing something worthwhile and enjoyable with your life are important. The moment in between those things isn't important. Not to me.

Am I alone in this? Surely there must be others like me. oflinkey, gimme a hug!
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:05 AM on June 19, 2003


Slithy, I may be prejudiced in the matter, because my son just graduated last week. I'm not sure how much it mattered to him-but it sure as heck mattered to me, his dad and grandparents. Not to mention it was a last hurrah for the group, many of which won't see each other again unless they go to a dreary class reunion (now THAT is something to avoid...)
posted by konolia at 12:44 AM on June 19, 2003


My last day in school (in UK) was a riot. Literally. Property damage, common assault, public indecency... And then we all went down the pub for more of the same.

Ah, happy days. No graduation ceremony to speak of at all (until my undergrad one). You do only appreciate these as you get older, my postgrad ceremony was the first time I really appreciated being there. Yet, neither of these has any such thing as a valedictorian. Why single anybody's achievement above anybody else's? (Except for the degrees of fur and trimmings on your gowns of course...)

Oh, and I suppose the doctorates do get the fuss they deserve after that much work.
posted by klaatu at 5:02 AM on June 19, 2003


Thanks, centrs. The more I read about this case, the more it reminds me of the movie Election. Rheese Witherspoon's getting a little old to play a high school senior, though. I wonder who'll play Blair in the movie of the week?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:56 AM on June 19, 2003


> I hope I run into her on the T so that I can tell her that she's
> revolting.

Who's saying so? Do you actually attend the H-school or do you just hang in the square and ride the T? If the former, would you be a wog, a jock, or a clubbie? (That exhausts the possibilities.)
posted by jfuller at 6:02 AM on June 19, 2003


Irrelevant parochial highschool politics do not a good FPP make.
posted by signal at 6:38 AM on June 19, 2003


People, if you don't like the FPP, then don't read the bloody posting!!! Sheesh, I can't remember the last time I saw so much FPP Police! Amazing.

And, since you are suck sticklers for the rules, you know you're supposed to take up those kinds of "issues" in Metatalk, not here.
posted by aacheson at 8:00 AM on June 19, 2003


I skipped my college graduation. I was bitter and burnt out on ceremonies and rituals, and I'd already seen the show the previous year when my then SO graduated. Eventually they shipped me a degree. It's still in the mailing tube, somewhere.

I skipped my high school prom, too, but that was more about still being fat and insecure back then.
posted by NortonDC at 8:14 AM on June 19, 2003


I hope I run into her on the T so that I can tell her that she's revolting.

I'll be waiting in the pit, near where the Tasty used to be. This girl needs to learn a lesson, and after reading that horrible Newsweek article (the literary equivalent of a slow blowjob on the ego), it's obvious she hasn't.

As mature as it sounds, I'll be the one shouting obscenities and vulgar pick-up lines when she walks by.

Maybe that will teach her.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:19 AM on June 19, 2003


This girl needs to learn a lesson..

As mature as it sounds, I'll be the one shouting obscenities and vulgar pick-up lines when she walks by.

Maybe that will teach her.


SweetJesus, haven't you ever done anything wrong in your life? Haven't you ever needed to learn a lesson? I have - it just didn't get media coverage. I learned - and it didn't take harassment from self-righteous strangers to teach me either.

I think Blair Hornstine is getting punished already - she doesn't get to go to her graduation, she's such a pariah in her school and hometown that her house is getting paintballed and she's getting DEATH THREATS - and if she does get to Harvard there are at least 2,000 students there who hate her enough to have signed a petition protesting her admission to the college. Enough.

I'm as disgusted with this little brat as anyone, and I'm following the story just to see what happens next. But I really don't like the vigilante comments in this thread. To comment on her publicized behaviour in a public forum is one thing. But as for taking it upon ourselves to directly punish her - well, let the one who has never behaved badly cast the first stone.
posted by orange swan at 9:26 AM on June 19, 2003


As mature as it sounds, I'll be the one shouting obscenities and vulgar pick-up lines when she walks by.

Maybe that will teach her.


Or just get you arrested for harassment, preferably.
posted by bargle at 9:34 AM on June 19, 2003


As mature as it sounds, I'll be the one shouting obscenities and vulgar pick-up lines when she walks by.

And I'm sure she'll connect it to the lawsuit. Because no other woman receives this kind of treatment when walking through a city.

jacquilynne - thanks for injecting some fact into the debate.
posted by transona5 at 10:06 AM on June 19, 2003


Slithy, I don't particularly remember by HS graduation and I skipped my college graduation, so I'm with you.

As for the rest of you: why is everyone defending this girl? She's a plagiarist who didn't even own up to her actions! I don't get it.
posted by mdn at 10:38 AM on June 19, 2003


I (and I'm pretty far from "everyone") am defending her because most of the people attacking her don't seem to know about the plagiarism, it's not what the lawsuit was about, and it hadn't even been uncovered when people started calling her an ugly whiny bitch. Also, the school investigated in some depth whether she had plagiarized in any of her classes and came up with nothing. Sure, she deserved to have it uncovered by putting herself in the public eye, but that isn't what this is about for most of her critics.
posted by transona5 at 10:50 AM on June 19, 2003


Do you actually attend the H-school or do you just hang in the square and ride the T? If the former, would you be a wog, a jock, or a clubbie?

No, I ride the T in the event that I want to go somewhere across town. I know, radical concept.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:22 PM on June 19, 2003


SweetJesus, haven't you ever done anything wrong in your life?

No, never. I'm infallible, remember? It's in that old book who's name escapes me.

Haven't you ever needed to learn a lesson? I have - it just didn't get media coverage. I learned - and it didn't take harassment from self-righteous strangers to teach me either.

Orange, if you couldn't tell that post was dripping with sarcasm, I don't know what to do.

I've got better things to do that shout vulgarities at people like her. Besides, she'd probably sue me for emotional stress if I did.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2003


And by the way Orange, she didn't make a just a tiny little mistake, like bumping into someone's car, or stepping on someone's foot. She's suing a school district for 2.7 million dollars.

Where did the 2.7 million dollar figure come from? That's a lot of money for emotional stress and lawyers fees. Any of your mistakes potentially cost tax payers 2.7 million dollars?

I think Blair Hornstine is getting punished already - she doesn't get to go to her graduation, she's such a pariah in her school and hometown that her house is getting paintballed and she's getting DEATH THREATS - and if she does get to Harvard there are at least 2,000 students there who hate her enough to have signed a petition protesting her admission to the college. Enough.

Oh boo-fucking-hoo, she doesn't get to go to her graduation. Oh boo-fucking-hoo, she's a pariah. If you want to act like a spoiled status-seeking social climber who resorts to expensive litigation when things don't go your way, you better be ready for the consequences. Most people would be perfectly happy splitting the honors with the other top member of the class, but not Blair.

So fuck her. If she wanted this whole thing to end, she'd drop her lawsuit. She deserves every little bit she gets (minus the death threats), as she hasn't apologized for her lawsuit, or her plagiarism.

But I really don't like the vigilante comments in this thread. To comment on her publicized behavior in a public forum is one thing. But as for taking it upon ourselves to directly punish her

I'm not going to go out of my way to humiliate her (I don't even live in Boston anymore) because it's not worth the effort or time. I'm sure people have made her aware of what they think of her, time and time again, and I'm sure my views run parallel to others.

But if I'm ever up at Harvard again, and I see her, maybe I'll just shout "ditto", and leave it at that.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2003


Mayor Curley :

> No, I ride the T in the event that I want to go somewhere
> across town. I know, radical concept.

What, then, do we reckon the odds are of bumping into one particular Cliffie while riding somewhere/anywhere on the Beantown MTA? You sound so eager; are you holding your breath? I think maybe I wouldn't, IIWY.

SweetJesus:

> But if I'm ever up at Harvard again,

hanging around the square looking for aggro with the rest of the pizzafaced townies? Omawarisan! Chikan o tska-mate!
posted by jfuller at 2:10 PM on June 19, 2003


Just a quick question, but why would I molest your brother, Jfuller?

Maybe my Japanese isn't as good as I think...
posted by SweetJesus at 4:30 PM on June 19, 2003


jfuller: Please. No one who lives in Boston calls it "Beantown." It's like calling San Francisco "Frisco." It's just wrong on so many levels.
posted by swerve at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2003


I'm not going to go out of my way to humiliate her (I don't even live in Boston anymore) because it's not worth the effort or time.

Glad to hear it, SweetJesus.

Just to clarify - I DON'T feel sorry for BH (hey, say those initials aloud!) and it's her own fault she's a pariah. I hope she loses her lawsuit and gets rejected by Harvard. It's the death threats and vigilante comments that bother me.

Your comment just didn't read like sarcasm to me. And I notice I wasn't the only one who reacted to it as though it were literal. Don't forget - all we have are words here. No subtext - no tones of voice, no body language, no facial expressions. I didn't suppose that you'd actually do it, but it was the expression of vigilantism that I was reacting to.

And despite the fact that I'm so credulous I really believe you are who you claim you are, I will NOT wash your feet and dry them with my long red hair.
posted by orange swan at 11:45 AM on June 20, 2003


Latest news over at The Weekly Standard.
posted by davidmsc at 4:20 AM on June 29, 2003


« Older Opening Gambits   |   Move Off Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post