More than 70 Franklin graduates were recognized at commencement for having high grade-point averages, and for the second year students weren’t competing against each other for the honor.
Last year, Franklin decided to stop recognizing only the two students with the highest GPAs. School officials were concerned that students hoping to be named valedictorian or salutatorian would take easier courses where they had better chances of earning A’s, instead of more rigorous courses that would challenge them and better prepare them for college.
Now, Franklin recognizes graduates who finish high school with a GPA of 3.67 or higher with medals at graduation.
“It helps keep the students from playing the GPA game,” Franklin Community High School assistant principal Leah Wooldridge said.
The number of Franklin students who received medals was up slightly from last year, when about 60 students were recognized. This year more of the high school’s students also enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, which are college-level classes that are more demanding than high school courses.
It’s still too early to tell whether the increase was because fewer students took easier courses they thought would boost their GPAs, Wooldridge said.
Over the next few years, school officials will know roughly how many students they can expect to receive honors at graduation each year. Then, if there’s a year where that number rises or falls significantly, school officials can look into what caused the change and if they can do anything to help students continue to receive high marks, or to improve their GPAs, Wooldridge said.
Student council president Madison Kireta was among the top students in her class, and up until last school year would have been in contention for the high school’s valedictorian or salutatorian spots. But she was fine with Franklin’s decision to stop naming the top two students.
Recognizing all of the high school’s top students meant that she didn’t have to compete against her classmates this school year.
“I don’t really care, because it definitely takes the pressure off,” she said. “And instead of competing against everyone else, you’re competing against yourself,” she said.
Instead of hearing from the top two students at commencement, Franklin’s outgoing seniors heard from six of their classmates before they turned their tassels and threw their caps. Six seniors auditioned, and three were selected by the high school’s faculty to make graduation speeches. The student council president typically speaks at Franklin’s graduation ceremony, and this year Kireta asked if two other seniors could speak with her. All three wanted to talk about what the 18-year-olds might encounter and experience as they begin college and their careers.
“We just thought it’d be something new and fun,” Kireta said.