How would the effect of presenting historical background on the American high school have changed if Talbot had opened the article with it?
Beginning with paragraph 25, Talbot presents some historical background on the American high school.
This question is a subjective question (any reader can have a very different view on the answer based upon individual interpretation of the article and their understanding of it). That being said, the answer to the question will be subjective as well. What this means it that some may argue that beginning the article with the historical background would change it dramatically while others would say it would not change it at all.
This being said, I do not believe that beginning the article with historical background would engage the typical reader. Many people, when faced with historical information, may find the article uninteresting and not be engaged.
One is looking for engagement when reading. In the same way, one is looking to be drawn in immediately when reading. Too many times, historical information simply turns too many people off to it.
Therefore, by beginning her article with "Daniel Kennedy remembers when he still thought that valedictorians were a good thing", Talbot has the chance to draw more readers in given they may have remembered the fight, or been involved in the fight, for the title Valedictorian.