Change never comes easy. That’s especially true when the changes deal with long-standing traditions and our children.
Yet, nothing stays the same forever, and often the changes, though hard to swallow at first, are usually the product of forward thinking.
Such is the case in Sampson County Schools, where administrators continuing their efforts to implement a new student recognition ceremony that will tout more young people at graduation.
On its surface, it sounds like a perfect road to travel. Any time educators can do something that rewards more students is a positive; however the system by which those rewards would come would eliminate a time-honored tradition that dates back for decades.
Sampson County Schools is eyeing a Latin Honors system which allows more students to be recognized for their academic achievements, but would erase valedictorians and salutatorians, replacing it with a plan that uses the Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude distinctions.
“We realize that it’s a huge paradigm shift,” county schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy was quoted as saying in a Sampson Independent article last year when the subject first came up. When you do a paradigm shift like this, it takes time. We’re not asking for any decisions today. Let’s keep talking about it.”
And that’s what the system has been doing. A committee was formed with representatives from each of the high schools and Sampson Early College, along with Col. Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent of academics and student services, principals, counselors, teachers and school board members. discussions have been ongoing.
Recently, Macon shared the committee’s reactions, with all but those representing Hobbton favoring the Latin system. What the school board will do remains up in the air, but one thing is certain, the approach to possibly making the change has been a good one, allowing districts to have their say in the process which, in turn, has given them a feeling of ownership in the shift.
While the proposal remains just that – a proposal – we continue believe it merits the favor of the Board of Education. Sure there are kinks that need to be worked out, including who would make the graduation speeches now offered by the val and sal at each school. But those are just details, and all ones that are easily worked out among individuals willing to dip their toes into uncharted waters.
And these are uncharted waters, but they are the progressive waters that move school systems, and thus students, forward.
While we wholeheartedly agree with board member Tim Register that schools have gone too far in regards to many things, including graduations at the middle and elementary levels (and we will go a step further to add proms to that list, one that leaves little for young people to look forward to as they move from one level to another), we don’t see the Latin system as a part of that particular problem. We view it as Macon does — a better way to recognize young people, and more of them.
We are always in favor of proposals that offer more students an opportunity to be rewarded for hard work and achievements. The Latin Honors system does that and, what’s more, it prepares students for how colleges and universities will acknowledge their achievements at the next academic level.
It has been suggested that the shift to the Latin Honors system begin with the class of 2019 or with students who are now eighth-graders.
We leave when to start the new honor system up to the education masters; all we say is the sooner the better, and we offer kudos to school administrators for taking the bold steps toward a new but progressive frontier.