In the past, the top two students of the graduating class were recognized as the valedictorian and salutatorian and spoke at graduation.
Instead, the county will now recognize seniors with a weighted GPA of 4.25 or higher with the distinction summa cum laude, magna cum laude for seniors with a 4.0 to 4.249 and cum laude for a 3.75 to 3.99.
The county hasn’t provided principals with guidance yet on who gets to speak at commencement.
For many students, being designated as the class valedictorian is the greatest honor imaginable in school.
The want for such an honor can be a great motivation, but called an “unhealthy competition” by school leaders, this desire can also be a detriment.
As there is a lot of importance placed on GPA, and honors and AP courses add an extra 0.5 and 1.0 weight to a student’s class grade, students often take classes worth more rather than classes concerning their actual interests and pursuits in life.
Though a student might really love to sing and could express that by taking our academic level Mixed Ensemble chorus class, he or she might take AP Psychology instead for that extra 1.0, potentially with not even the slightest interest in the class.
Students will now be able to pursue interests such as a performance or visual art, newspaper and yearbook, another language, specializing in a CTE area of study for several semesters and so on without worrying they are missing out.
As reporters who have chosen to work on the Forest Fire for three and four years, eventually becoming editors and leaders, we applaud WCPSS and the freedom the new policy allows our peers to also concentrate on an area of study for several semesters and even years.
The decision has been criticized as punishing the top students, but now, even more students in excellent standing will be recognized, especially those that may have only slightly missed out on being first and second.