Elimination of valedictorian, salutatorian designations in Hernando doesn’t set well with all
Nature Coast Technical High School senior Alyssa Cooper has always been a motivated student.
She’s worked hard to achieve a 4.55 grade-point average. To pull in highest honors at the school. To obtain her associate’s degree from Pasco-Hernando Community College.
One big factor keeping her motivated: the prospect of becoming valedictorian — earning her graduating class’s top academic honor.
“It causes us to be even more driven than we already are,” Cooper said. “And it gives us something to strive for.”
She achieved her goal, becoming the Class of 2013’s top student at Nature Coast. But she might be one of the last to earn that designation.
Without much discussion or public input last summer, and based on the recommendation of a committee doing a routine review of district policies, the Hernando County School Board voted to eliminate the valedictorian and salutatorian designations at district high schools beginning with the current freshman classes.
It’s a decision that is now starting to generate backlash from some students, parents and community members.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea at all,” said Cooper.
Cooper’s mother, Michelle, agreed.
“We try, as parents, to teach our children to set high goals,” she said. “If you do away with valedictorians and salutatorians, who is to say you’re not taking these kids and deflating them?”
School Board members passed the new policy 5-0 during their July 31 meeting as part of the 87-page “2012-2013 High School Procedures Handbook.” There was no discussion.
Printed in bold letters on Page 69 of the handbook, the new rule reads, “Note: Effective with the Class of 2016, (students entering ninth grade in 2012-13), the current designation for valedictorian and salutatorian for graduation will no longer be in effect.”
Prior to the vote, no School Board member mentioned the new policy during the board’s June 19 workshop, during which the board reviewed changes to a number of handbooks.
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