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Franklin Regional taking a pass on multiple valedictorians

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Being “No. 1” will stay a solo honor for the foreseeable future at Franklin Regional.

School board members Monday rejected a proposal to allow multiple valedictorians as “Distinguished Scholars” after more than 30 minutes of debate. The plan, which was recommended by administrators, would have granted the senior class' top honor to any student with a grade-point average above 4.4.

In previous years, between eight and 12 students met that criteria and would have been named valedictorian. That didn't sit well with board members.

“One is one,” board Vice President Joe Seymour said. “It's not one through 12.”

The proposal was shot down by a 1-7 vote, with Seymour supporting the plan. Board President Herb Yingling was absent because of illness.

High School principal Ron Suvak said class rank often is determined by as little as 0.001 of a grade point.

Franklin Regional uses a weighted grade system in which students can attain more than a 4.0 grade-point average by taking honors or Advanced Placement courses. Students who receive an “A” in an honors class would receive 4.40 toward their GPA; an “A” in an Advanced Placement course would receive 4.80 points.

Board member Dennis Pavlik suggested that the real problem might be with how the district awards grades, rather than the class-rank system.

“We may be looking at the wrong animal here,” Pavlik said. “Are we giving too many A's? It seems the grades reflect the outcome we expect of the kids.”

Officials most struggled with the idea that all “Distinguished Scholars” would have a class rank of one listed on their transcript, if the student opted to include that information. Suvak said most students choose to omit that information for fear a college might reject the student for not being ranked as a valedictorian or salutatorian, despite the high GPA.

“We're putting into policy a lie then?” Seymour asked. “We're saying all 12 or seven are one by putting that ‘one' on a transcript.

“I know what ‘one' means — it doesn't mean 12.”

Board member Kim Bondi said that the teens need to accept that they aren't always going to be No. 1.

“My (16-year-old triplets) told me, ‘Life's not fair, someone has to be No. 1,'” Bondi said. “OK, that's out of the mouths of babes. This is life. There is someone who is going to be better than you sometimes.”

The proposal will be reviewed by the board's policy committee and revised before returning to the school board at a later date.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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