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Principals propose honoring 95 average or higher

By LAURA BUCKStaff writer

Calvert County Public Schools is one step closer to eliminating its valedictorian and salutatorian program after last Thursday’s Calvert County Board of Education meeting.

Getting rid of the program was previously discussed at a board meeting last fall when the principals at the four CCPS high schools said they didn’t think the two titles motivated enough students.

At Thursday’s meeting Calvert High School Principal Susan Johnson and Huntingtown High School Principal Rick Weber proposed that students with an average of 95 or higher be honored in addition to the top five students in a class being acknowledged “in some fashion,” according to Weber.

Rather than using a Greek honors system as previously discussed the principals proposed that these top students “graduate with distinction.”

“If the school wanted to acknowledge the top 10 they could,” Weber said.

Weber proposed having the class president speak at graduation along with another student speaker who would be selected by a vote among the students with a 95 or higher average.

Weber said he has spoken to some students about the possible change and they were “very accepting.”

Johnson said there was one student at Calvert High School who was very outspoken that “the valedictorian and salutatorian had earned their spot” but the other students seemed supportive of the change.

Johnson and Weber proposed implementing the change during the 2014 to 2015 school year when the current freshman are seniors and said they would keep class ranks for the purpose of college applications.

“A student could list ‘I’m a valedictorian’ because by definition valedictorian is No. 1 in your class,” said CCPS Superintendent Jack Smith.

Weber said the students with top class rankings would also be acknowledged in awards ceremonies at the four high schools.

“The whole purpose of an award is to motivate students,” said Weber, continuing that this would be a much greater motivator than competing for two top spots.

“It’s not taking away from the valedictorian program, it’s expanding it,” Calvert County Board of Education member Dawn Balinski said.

Smith asked Johnson, Weber and their fellow high school principals to use the next year or two to put together some more concrete parameters for the program.