Through a unanimous vote, the Sampson County Schools Board of Education finalized ways to give more recognition to the top students at graduation ceremonies.
Local high schools will continue to use the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian way to honor the top two students, in addition to other who came close behind them. The top 10 seniors will be recognized in addition to others receiving a “Honors of Distinction” placement. It will begin at the 11th position and continue up to the 20th spot and will based on students having the same GPA. During a previous work session, there was a consensus to use cords for this recognition.
The changes will now effect students juniors, sophomores and freshmen. Following the Wednesday’s board of education meeting, Col. Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent for academics and student services, was pleased with the decision.
“It’s a good day,” Macon said. “We have a decision that will support our current recognition of val and sal honors plus other deserving students. I am excited to implement the approved Honors Blueprint for school year 2017-2018.”
One idea presented by school officials was to use a college-like Latin system to recognize students through distinctions Cum Laude (with praise), Magna Cum Laude (with great praise) and Summa Cum Laude (with highest honor). But the proposal was rejected by board members because they believed this process weaken the recognition system.
During previous meetings, Macon, presented the Latin system as way to recognize more students. But the consideration began following the start of a 10-point grading scale in North Carolina, with pluses or minuses attached to letter grades. This means that an A is anything between 90 to 100. School leaders believe this presents conflicts when it comes to tie-breaking situations.
Before the vote, the district’s plans for the Honors of Distinction included junior marshals, but the board wanted that recognition to go towards seniors only. It also included going up to the 25th position as well, which was eliminated from the approval. While going over the policy, Board Member Tim Register expressed how it may bring up conflict.
“I think it would be very difficult to justify, especially if they’re tied, to stop at position 25,” Board Member Tim Register said.
The approved policy also includes a tiebreaker system using the final numerical grades cumulative average for seniors at the end of the fourth year in high school. For the junior marshal’s, a tiebreaker will be used in the final numerical grades cumulative average at the end of the fifth six weeks, at the third year of high school.
Prior to the Wednesday meeting, Macon and district leaders help meetings at different schools to receive the opinions of students and teachers for the Latin system. It was reported that students would like to see more of their peers recognized for their work in schools.
Board Chair Telfair Simpson believes the right decision was made for the top 10 students.
“Keeping the val and sal along with the top eight students using a tiebreaker system,” Simpson said. “We have also added the Honor of Distinction for the next 10 students and all ties. This allows them to be recognized for their hard work and achievements during their four years in high school.”