Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Education

Hernando School Board: Valedictorian, salutatorian honors should remain

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County School Board members sent a clear message to superintendent Bryan Blavatt on Tuesday about how the district should recognize top high school graduates.

Board members do not want to see valedictorians and salutatorians disappear.

The discussion followed an earlier vote where board members apparently inadvertently eliminated the top two academic honors beginning with the current freshman classes.

"This got past," said School Board member John Sweeney. "It got past the superintendent. And it will be rectified. I don't really see it as an issue going forward."

Sweeney said he feels recognizing achievement is important.

"This is not going to become a district where everyone gets a trophy," he said.

Board member Gus Guadagnino, who was not a board member at the time of the original vote, agreed.

"In the game of life, if you're not going to pick your winners and your first and second place, then why keep score," he said.

In July, the board unanimously approved the 2012-13 high school procedures handbook, which included a new rule reading: "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."

At Tuesday's workshop, the board directed Blavatt to come up with a policy recommendation that would require schools to continue to recognize valedictorians and salutatorians.

Board member Dianne Bonfield apologized for missing the change. "Somehow, someway, we need to work on this process so that this doesn't happen again," she said.

Board Chairman Matt Foreman said staff members should highlight policy changes, making them apparent to board members.

Still, there continued to be confusion Tuesday about what had been intended with the policy change.

Springstead principal Susan Duval, who helped devise the change, said it was never meant to get rid of valedictorians and salutatorians, only to give more people a chance to deliver the traditional graduation speeches.

"Instead of (valedictorians and salutatorians) automatically getting the right to speak, we wanted to open it up to students," Duval said.

Blavatt conceded that that's not the way the policy revision was worded.

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