Middle Park plans new valedictorian selection process
Every spring high schools throughout the nation begin looking to commencement ceremonies when graduating seniors are formally honored for the accomplishment of completing their secondary education.
While high school graduation is a watershed moment for anyone who receives a diploma many schools traditionally recognize outstanding student academics. Typically this recognition comes in the form of valedictorian or salutatorian honors for the first and second highest-ranking students, based on grade point average (GPA) and other factors. Middle Park High School (MPHS) however has a somewhat different approach.
Currently any Middle Park senior who graduates with a GPA of 4.0 or above receives valedictorian designation. According to MPHS Principal Thom Schnellinger the high school as seen as many as nine valedictorians in a single graduating class in years past.
That system will change in coming years as Middle Park moves to a new valedictorian/salutatorian selection system. Schnellinger spoke to the East Grand School District (EGSD) Board of Education during their first meeting of 2016, held on Jan. 5, to discuss the school’s plans for a new selection process.
“It appears to be the desire of the community, the board and the students to move towards a single valedictorian and salutatorian choosing system,” Schnellinger told the board.
New Selection System
The new selection system will seek to name one valedictorian and one salutatorian for each graduating class. To qualify for either valedictorian or salutatorian honors graduating seniors must have attended MPHS for at least three full semesters prior to graduation. The valedictorian will be determined by selecting the student with the highest overall GPA. Students must have earned National Honor Society membership and completed at least three advanced placement (AP) classes to qualify.
In the event of a GPA tie between students who meet all other qualification requirements then the selection process will determine valedictorian based on which student has the highest ACT or SAT score as of the December prior to graduation. If a tie still exists after comparing ACT or SAT scores then Middle Park will recognize multiple students as valedictorian.
To honor the work of other high achieving students who did not receive valedictorian or salutatorian designation Middle Park will also begin officially recognizing students who qualify for summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude honors during commencement ceremonies.
The new selection process will not go into effect until 2018, when this year’s current sophomores become seniors. Schnellinger explained he wanted to grandfather in the new selection process to maintain fairness for current seniors and juniors.
Middle Park’s valedictorian and salutatorian selection process is a school policy and is not necessarily subject to a vote from the Board of Education, said Schnellinger. He presented the new selection process to the board for review but they did not officially vote up or down on the new selection process.
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