Jacksonville High School seniors will have one, if not two, graduation ceremonies this year. However, neither format will include a valedictorian or salutatorian this year.
The District 117 Board of Education voted to move from the traditional class ranking system to the Latin Honors system for the graduating class of 2021 during their regular April meeting Wednesday night.
Superintendent Steve Ptacek says many at the high school were in favor of making the change this year due to the added challenges brought on by remote learning and the COVID-19 pandemic. He says it didn’t create a true spirit of competition that usually occurs under the class rank system this year: “Some people felt that it wasn’t the same fair, competitive environment this year, starting even last year in March with some of our students being at home and other ones being in school. We do know that every year that the push to be the valedictorian can bring out a very competitive side. This is a unique year. It was brought to me asking if we could move to the Latin Honors (laude, cum laude, summa cum laude) this year.”
The Latin System is more commonly used by colleges. However, more high schools around the country are moving to the system that ranks students off of reaching a certain level of proficiency. It differs from the traditional Class Rank system which numbers students from 1 on down, based solely on their grade point average.
Ptacek said the board vote was needed to make a change to an existing policy which requires the Class Rank system to be used. He says suggestions of making the switch permanent has also been a growing topic of conversation.
He says the board will consider making the change permanently to the Latin System in a subsequent meeting after graduation.