Huntsville student, principal speak out on valedictorian, salutatorian elimination

Huntsville student, principal speak out on valedictorian, salutatorian elimination

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - It’s been a big talker on social media. Huntsville City Schools will no longer recognize a valedictorian or salutatorian when the school year ends.

Instead, students with a 4.0 or higher grade point average will graduate summa cum laude and those with a 3.8-4.0 will be magna cum laude.

This came as a surprise to many people, but it hit especially hard for one student.

Ella Burch has ranked at the top of her class of nearly 400 for the past two years. Now that she’s learned the possibility of being recognized as the top student in her class at graduation is no longer an option, she’s taking action, saying it shouldn’t be applied for a few more years.

“Implementing this at a current freshman level would give those students enough time to curate their schedules around other things and enough time to be prepared for this at graduation. But dropping this on the current seniors after the last three years of making sure they worked closely with their counselors and administration, made As, took the hardest classes they could beyond their interested fields is really undercutting our goals and our successes that we have earned,” she said.

But Aaron King, the principal of Huntsville High School, supports the change. He says the new policy will allow more students to be recognized for their significant accomplishments and encourage them to pursue their passions.

“We also have a lot of students who, over the years, over several years, have dropped out of band, choir, theater, journalism and many other courses in pursuit of tenths, hundredths, even thousandths of a GPA point in order to be part of that top 20. It breaks my heart to see students leave their passions when they really should be able to pursue those and enjoy the benefits of those AP courses,” said King.

The Huntsville city school board is addressing this change at a meeting Thursday night.

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