DeKALB – DeKalb High School could be moving their students to a Latin system instead of a valedictorian system for graduating seniors, and DHS Principal James Horne said the more widely-used system would allow students to explore interests without being penalized.
Horne went in front of the the District 428 school board Tuesday to advocate for a change in the way graduating seniors are recognized for their academic achievement. The board supported the idea during Tuesday’s board of education meeting and will vote on it at a later date. Horne said if the board approves the new system, he would recommend beginning it with incoming freshman so that it first takes effect for the Class of 2023.
The district currently uses the grade point average as a way to recognize top-performing students during graduation, which includes selecting a valedictorian. The new system would allow a greater number of students to be recognized, Horne said, and utilize suma cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude as designating tiers, as many colleges and universities nationwide do.
“Currently the top 10 students are recognized, but this year there was a 0.02 GPA difference between student 10 and 11,” Horne said. “That’s a student who had to make a choice on a class they wanted to take, like journalism or band. It’s not a weighted class. You have students who are exploring, taking academic risks, and the system is actually working against them.”
Superintendent Jamie Craven said many colleges care more about a students’ diverse experiences rather than class rank, and the Latin system would help students feel encouraged to take a larger variety of courses without fearing it will effect their GPA.
“[Colleges] want to know what your students took and look at their individual GPA, but they also want to know were they taking AP, honors, dual-language classes,” Craven said. “They don’t care what the class rank is. They want to know what else you were involved in.”
Horne said Dupage Valley schools have been using the Latin system for a decade. DeKalb High School Barbs teams will be joining the DuPage Valley conference in 2019.
“If we would have utilized the Latin system for the Class of 2019, we would have 48 students suma cum laude, 25 magna cum ladue, and 36 cum laude,” Horne said.
Board member and secretary Sarah Moses wondered why incoming sophomores wouldn’t be able to participate in the new system since they haven’t, and said her son would be one of them. Horne said he would be open to allowing incoming sophomores to utilize the new system.