BOYERTOWN — There may be no valedictorian of the Boyertown High School Class of 2025. No salutatorian either.
That will be the case if the school board moves forward with adopting a proposed new grading policy that will replace class rank with the “Latin” system of cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude.
According to the presentation made by Michael Stoudt, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, at Tuesday’s school board work session, the new policy under consideration would have all Boyertown High School graduates whose grade point average is between 3.0 and 3.66 graduate “cum laude,” which means “with praise” in Latin.
Those with a GPA of 3.667 to 4.199 would graduate with a magna cum laude designation. In Latin, that means “with great praise. Those with a GPA of 4.2 or higher would be designated summa cum laude, which translates as “with highest praise.”
Class rank would only be calculated for those colleges and universities which requested it, said Stoudt.
The first class to be affected by this change would be the current Freshman class, which graduates in 2025. Students currently in higher grades would graduate under the current system of grading and class rank.
“This is something we believe will benefit all of our students,” Superintendent MaryBeth Torchia told the school board.
Stoudt said one reason for the change being proposed is because “in some cases, students are taking courses for their GPA and the bumps they will get rather than for what they would learn in that course.”
Boyertown High School Principal E. Wayne Foley told the board “in the last few years we’ve had to go to five or six decimal points” to determine who is valedictorian and salutatorian, “and that’s really splitting a hair.”
School Board Vice President Melody McWherter said when her sons were in school “it was very competitive. It seemed like too much stress to get that valedictorian designation, so I look forward to seeing this.”
Also, speakers at graduation would no longer be automatically the two top students.
“This opens the door for people to audition for speeches, which, I think, is a much better system than automatically getting it,” said Foley.
And in some ways it can also be a relief to top students who may not want to give a speech.
“We had one student last year purposely bomb an exam so she would not have to give a speech at graduation, so she would be third, instead of second or first, so there’s a lot of different pressures there,” Foley said.
The proposed policy will enter the formal approval process at the next board meeting on Oct. 26 when it will be on the agenda for a “first read,” Torchia said.
Source: Berkshire mont