Greater Clark County School Board discusses removing valedictorian title

Debate over GCCS valedictorian system

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) – By 2020, graduation ceremonies may look different for greater Clark county schools. 
 
“I've always wanted to be at the top. I'm stubborn like that. I want to be the best I can be,” Tommy Gnadinger, a Charlestown High School senior, said.
 
Naming a valedictorian and a salutatorian as the first and second ranked students in a graduating class has always been a part of their tradition. But on Tuesday, at a Greater Clark County School Board meeting there was discussion about doing away with the valedictorian salutatorian system. Some faculty say students are choosing classes based on their class rank, rather than their future and they'd like to see the district do away with the valedictorian system. 
 
“They are taking extremely rigorous courses but didn't know that they shouldn't take a PE credit to open up a space to take another AP course. They should've taken a PE credit that would've made their GPA higher. There are just so many things as we have ramped up our curriculum and added opportunities to make what's best for kids, at the very top of the scale it has brought out flaws,” Jeffersonville High Principal Julie Straight said.
 
Most of the board members were in favor of change but unsure of what system would be best. But for Melanie Brison, her title was something that changed the course of her future. 
 
“Having that valedictorian title for me was what got me my scholarship to university of Evansville and it was their top scholarship and it was offered automatically to valedictorians,” Melanie Brison, 2014 New Washington High School valedictorian, said.
 
A 2004 graduate of new Washington high school, Brison was valedictorian of her class. She says it’s not the titles that are flawed but the system. She says classes should be weighted differently, so students will take classes for their future and rank--not just one or the other
 
“We see this out of whack or out of balance offerings of courses, why don't we fix the offerings instead of do away with the program,” Brison said.
 
Right now, there is a proposal to do away with naming valedictorians and salutatorians. Instead schools would recognize the top 5 or 10 percent of the class. But Brison says her title was so valuable to her future--it could be valuable to another student 
 
“Just because it happened to me it could happen to someone else too and I wouldn't want to see opportunities be taken away from kids,” she said.
 
The board did not make a decision at the meeting. They say they want to research different systems and take their time before making a decision.
 


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