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Penn High School proposes new academic recognition system

MISHAWAKA, Ind.—Penn High School’s tradition of designating of a valedictorian and salutatorian at graduation ceremonies may cease to exist in coming years.

The Penn-Harris-Madison school board could soon replace the currently used distinctions with Latin commencement honors of summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude in an effort to honor more students’ academic success.

“What comes with [the current recognition system] sometimes is some pressures. Maybe some social pressures. Pressures on themselves and it can be good to have that kind of pressure but I don’t think it’s always great to be kind of comparing yourself to others within the learning environment,” said Sean Galiher, Penn High School Prinicipal.

In making their decision, Penn Administrators spoke with colleges and universities across the country and found that the majority of schools do not use class rank as a determining factor for admittance.

“Right now there’s a highly competitive atmosphere at Penn and moving towards a Latin honors system would help it become more competition towards a number rather than towards each other,” said Courtney Sharpe, a junior at Penn High School.

The school also collected parents’ opinions over the change in a recent survey and found that many parents were in fact supportive of the new recognition system.

“I think it gives more students chances to receive honors and it doesn’t separate students. So the fact that they’re competing for a very small spot is kind of ridiculous,” said Jean Dewey, a parent of a Penn High School student.

The new ranking policy would take effect with the class of 2023 if the board approves the proposal. No decision date has been set yet.


Revan Lowe-Watkins and Rebecca Shrode contributed to this story.

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