A Fort Wayne high school will not name a valedictorian or salutatorian at its commencement ceremonies this year.
Instead, Homestead High School will move to a cum laude system similar to most colleges that honors students based on grade-point average levels. Homestead students can now earn a cum laude, sum cum laude or magna cum laude award.
Homestead Principal Park Ginder told WANE 15 that Southwest Allen County Schools first brought up the idea in 2014 as a way to encourage students to take a deeper, more rigorous or academically intense load of classes.
This will allow the school to honor more deserving students, instead of just two.
“One of the reasons to go to a system like this in a highly competitive high school is that it encourages those students who have been missed before, if you’re in a school that is highly competitive academically with a rigorous program, it’s not unusual to go 200-250 or 300 deep into your senior class with kids that are truly, truly outstanding,” said Ginder. “They’re going to IU, Purdue, Ball State, they’re going all over the country and yet they’re not recognized for their work and their A averages. So this is an opportunity to do those things and it’s not just a trophy giveaway.”
The 2019 class will be the first at Homestead to move to the cum laude system. A student contest determined the two students that will speak at the school’s graduation event June 2 at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center.
WANE 15 shared news of this move on social media this week. Numerous comments suggested the school is moving toward a “participation trophy” culture by eliminating the valedictorian and salutatorian honors.
Ginder said, it’s just the opposite at Homestead.
“The biggest misnomer in this whole process is that there’s a sense that we’ve gone to recreation, summer league baseball, participation trophies for everybody,” said Ginder, explaining that Homestead students have tallied some 11,000 college credits this year through their curriculum. “This is highly competitive and not every student will earn a cum laude, summa cum laude or magna cum laude award. And so our kids have been honored with something that they have earned.”