New policy will discontinue valedictorians

Melissa Irish, Editor-in-Chief

At the April 2 school board meeting, Bellevue West principal Kevin Rohlfs and Bellevue East principal Jeff Wagner introduced a policy that will discontinue valedictorians in favor of a three-tiered recognition system.  It will also switch grade point average calculations to a four-point scale and have academic letter qualification be based solely on having at least a 4.00 GPA.

To graduate with highest distinction, a student must have at least a 4.25 GPA and have 50 credits, 24 of which must be from advanced and AP classes.  The next level requires a 3.75 GPA and 48 credits, with 16 of which from advanced and AP courses. The final graduation tier is composed of those who earned at least 46 credits.

“Our hope is that students will maybe look to take some more challenging courses,” Rohlfs said.  “We didn’t just require A and AP courses but we also increased the number of courses because we wanted to also encourage students to look at electives as well.”

Both high schools formed a committee to aid in the development of this new plan.  Counselor Susan Polk, who represented Bellevue West’s counseling staff in the committee, said that she believed the changes would benefit students.

“I think it will put less pressure on students,” Polk said.  “Not everyone can be number one in their class but a lot more students have the opportunity to be top 20 percent.”

As an AP Calculus teacher, Angela Daughtrey said that she is often in contact with students eligible for valedictorian and other academic honors.  She joined the committee because she was interested in seeing more kids recognized in a system where just one grade below an A is not all it takes to disqualify them.

“I hope this encourages people to take more classes and worry more about learning and not necessarily the grade,” Daughtrey said.  “Grades are important but they are not the end-all be-all.”

The use of GPA for academic letters is starting now, with everyone who qualifies under either that or the old system being recognized.  All of the other changes will begin with the class of 2022, the incoming freshmen.