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Hampton officials discuss valedictorian requirements

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 10:01 p.m.

The Hampton Township School Board planned to maintain the current requirements for valedictorian status, despite finding that the policy means the district can have nearly a dozen or more students achieving the honor.

The board established requirements four years ago allowing more than one valedictorian based on a series of requirements, including earning a minimum of 28 credits, not withdrawing from any classes and achieving a quality-point average of 4.35 or above.

The school board was expected to vote on its 2013-14 program of studies, which outlines the valedictorian requirements at its Jan. 14 meeting.

The topic prompted board discussion at its workshop meeting last week.

Since setting the valedictorian policy in 2009, the number of valedictorians has grown from four in the first year to include 11 valedictorians in last year's graduating class.

There is potential for Hampton to have 16 valedictorians this year.

“We established this in order to make it a fair process for kids,” said Superintendent John Hoover. “When you look at grading percentages, it's not precise to the 1,000th decimal place and that's not fair.

“Personally, I don't think it's a problem to have 10 valedictorians. It's indicative of our students achieving that level.”

Assistant Superintendent Jo Welter presented an example of how a student might achieve the highest possible QPA.

Her sample schedule showed the student taking the highest academic classes possible for four years, and included no study hall period and one day per week without a lunch period.

“If they got ‘As' all the way through … not missing a beat, 4.63 (is the maximum QPA),” Welter said.

Gail Litwiler, chair of educational programs, said creating the example schedule was “a very eye-opening exercise,” adding that although there are multiple valedictorians each year, the requirements still are rigorous.

“If in order to get to 4.6 (QPA), the student has to take every course AP … that is pushing kids to do something not in their best interest,” Litwiler said. “There are no electives in this (schedule).”

Several school board members agreed that it is not their goal for the students to only takes the highest academic classes, and they want students to feel free to try different courses and electives.

“I would be very much opposed to eliminating this (valedictorian criteria) because I think it would push kids away from taking full advantage of the high school experience,” said School Board President David Gurwin.

The school board was scheduled to vote to approve the 2013-14 program of studies and the valedictorian requirements at its Jan. 14 meeting.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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