Aalique Graham, right, posses for a portrait with Xavier Bernard,...

Aalique Graham, right, posses for a portrait with Xavier Bernard, left, in front of Malverne High School. (June 15, 2011) Credit: Charles Eckert

A handful of Malverne High School students, including the valedictorian, urged district officials Friday to recalculate all seniors' rankings after an error led to the wrong selection of the class's top student.

Newly minted valedictorian Aalique Grahame said he doesn't plan to mention the controversy in his address at the June 24 graduation ceremony.

Grahame's comments Friday capped a week of controversy in the district after school officials admitted that human error led to the miscalculation. Earlier, they had named senior Sarah St. John as valedictorian, but an investigation showed that Grahame -- with a 95.42 grade-point average -- has the highest GPA in the Class of 2011. St. John has a 95.16 GPA.

The district then named the two seniors as co-valedictorians, but the decision prompted much community criticism. Thursday, the district reversed itself and named Grahame the sole valedictorian and St. John the salutatorian.

Grahame, 17, said after meeting with district officials Friday that he hopes the district will recalculate all seniors' GPAs.

"I felt happy they did the right thing. I'm trying to get them to recount the whole class. A lot of people probably missed out if their grades are incorrect, because colleges do look at that. If my aunt didn't bring it to their attention, I would have graduated salutatorian," he said.

As for his graduation speech, Grahame plans to avoid discussing the controversy.

"It's about kids working their hardest and never giving up," he said.

Superintendent James Hunderfund said the students' suggestion will be taken seriously, but it's unlikely to be acted upon this semester. He said the district will have a superintendents' advisory council to take feedback on a variety of things, such as the way the district ranks students.

He also said rankings for college are calculated for all students at the end of junior year. They are only recalculated, based on seven semesters' worth of grades, for the students who could become valedictorian or salutatorian, he said.

Yakemia Harris, 18, a senior from Lakeview who is going to Virginia State University, said she still wants the whole class's GPAs recalculated. "We need a definite answer" if the administration will do that, she said.

Kelsey Jaquez, 17, also a senior from Lakeview, said the administration should have been more responsible. She said she is going to Nassau Community College but hopes to transfer to Florida International University.

"It's upsetting a week before graduation," she said of the controversy.

With Matthew Chayes

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