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No more valedictorians in Webster? | News

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No more valedictorians in Webster?
News, Schools

High school students in Webster striving to become top of their class may need to set another goal.

We’ve learned this school district is considering a proposal to do away with the valedictorian recognition.

A group of parents, students and educators have been working on this issue for months. Yesterday, they submitted a proposal to the school board recommending some changes. Tonight, the school board will discuss and possibly pass a resolution that would change a tradition that is centuries old.

“It’s motivating for the kids who can do it, but it’s not healthy for the kids who aren’t as smart as the others and it makes them feel bad that they’re not included in the top people in the class,” said Troy Thomas, high school junior.

These soon to be Webster Thomas High School seniors say high school is challenging and the thought of earning the status of valedictorian or salutatorian is for many only a dream. Students say it’s no longer just about reading, writing and arithmetic, but AP classes and regents diplomas.

“It used to be where people would try to go to valedictorian and salutatorian, but now with the AP courses and the other regents and honors courses people are going more for trying to take those classes and try to get as good as they can in that rather than get the highest overall average,” said Robert Matina, high school junior.

Things could soon change for students graduating from either one of Webster’s high schools. The board is taking up a proposal to get rid of the valedictorian and salutatorian and any public ranking of students.

“I’m in favor of that. I think we should be recognizing the efforts that students make in a wider group of kids. I do agree with that,” said Jolita Fornuto, parent.

The new honor system would include three tiers similar to college honors. Students could earn cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude distinctions based on their GPA’s. The executive director of the Monroe County School Board Association, Jody Siegle, says Webster wouldn’t be the first district to make this change. “Right now in Monroe County, five out of the 19 public school districts do not have the valedictorian or salutatorian any longer and have gone to some other means for  providing recognition for academic achievement.”

She says several other districts are considering it.

“I think its kind of an unrealistic goal now with a class size of 350 that you're going to be the top one or two in the class. With this it gives you more of a chance,” said Timothy Williams, high school junior.

Students would have to take advanced placement classes and maintain a certain grade point average in order to graduate with honors.

The board is meeting on this issue at 7pm tonight. If the proposal is approved, it would be phased in over three years. So the next three classes would have valedictorians.

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