Written by STEVE OSTERMANN
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 17:05
Board will explore tie-breaking options that would end Grafton High School tradition of honoring multiple No. 1’s
Grafton High School’s long-standing practice of honoring multiple valedictorians each spring may be coming to an end.
The School Board on Monday agreed to consider new options for awarding the recognition, including the use of a tie-breaking procedure to limit the honor to one graduate.
“If you’re going to call it a valedictorian, there should be only one valedictorian,” board member Clayton Riddle said.
“If you’re going to do it, do it right.”
Most area school districts have procedures to select one valedictorian and one salutatorian, including weighted grades that give more credit for advanced-placement or honors classes.
But that’s not the case at Grafton High School, where the maximum grade-point average is 4.0. As a result, the school has had two or more valedictorians in 10 of the last 15 years, including 22 in the last five years.
The school’s single-high year for valedictorians was eight in 2011.
Supt. Mel Lightner said he has received numerous comments and questions about the co-valedictorians tradition.
“I’ve heard from parents, teachers and students,” Lightner said.
“There currently is no policy. It’s something we can look at.”
Lightner suggested the board consider tie-breaking procedures to select a single valedictorian. Besides weighted grades, he said, the district could adopt criteria similar to those used in awarding Wisconsin Academic Excellence Higher Education Scholarships.
In that process, a faculty committee considers ACT scores, as well as the number of advanced-placement classes and total credits completed.
Riddle said he supports a weighted-grade system.
“I don’t like having AP courses and not giving students more credit,” he said.
However, Grafton High School Principal Ken McCormick said the district considered adopting a weighted-grade system more than 15 years ago before rejecting the proposal.
“We have not gone to weighted classes because we consider ourselves to be a comprehensive high school,” McCormick said.
“We don’t say that one course is tougher than another.”
Riddle said being designated as a co-valedictorian doesn’t help a graduate as much as a having singular honor in college applications.
“I think we look silly when we have four or five valedictorians,” he said.
Board President Terry Ziegler concurred.
“If we are perceived as not being at the same level as other schools, we’re putting ourselves as a competitive disadvantage,” Ziegler said.
With a consensus of support from the board, Lightner said he and McCormick will explore tie-breaking options that could be included in a formal policy.