Wednesday, March 03, 1999

Honors, not titles, for top students

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        GREEN TOWNSHIP — Oak Hills High School seniors who would have been named valedictorian and salutatorian — before the school did away with the titles — will be highlighted during graduation ceremonies.

        The ceremonial gesture is part of a grandfathering proc ess for this year's seniors only. This is in addition to previous plans for the students to receive class rings and recognition as “Best of Class.”

        By a 4-1 vote, the Oak Hills Board of Education approved a resolution Monday giving students the added recognition at graduation.

        Board member Kathy Davis suggested the added recognition “because (the students') concern continues to be getting the title. They are getting the rings. They are getting to speak.”

        But parents of two students in contention to become valedictorian and salutatorian said the students should be recognized for their hard work with a title.

        Beginning this year, Oak Hills High School no longer will recognize valedictorians and salutatorians at graduation. Students with a 3.9 grade-point average or higher will receive “highest honors” distinction.

        The district decided to review the policy after last year's top student took more classes at the University of Cincinnati than at the high school and, according to board policy, was not eligible to become valedictorian.

        Although the decision to do away with the titles was made by the board in August, the change did not come to light until recently, prompting an outcry by some students and parents.

        Board President Steven Oyler prompted the discussion by reading a statement that outlined the board's reasons for not naming a valedictorian or salutatorian.

        But Mr. Oyler said he was concerned about the timing of the change, that students were made aware of it so close to graduation.

        “I believe our decision is a sound decision,” he said. “I'm having conflict with one thing. ... They get to their senior year and the whole thing is changed.”

        He wondered whether the board should “grandfather” the change by naming a valedictorian and salutatorian this year and next and then doing away with the titles in 2001. that the idea did not have support from the rest of the board.

        “I would have preferred it be grandfathered back,” Mr. Oyler said after the vote. “But we have to go with what the board votes.”

        Carmo Herron, mother of Lissa Herron who was contending for salutatorian, said her daughter has earned the title. “Why can't my daughter, who achieved the honor, be recognized as such?” Mrs. Herron said.


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