NUSD changes Valedictorian and Salutatorian honors to recognize more students

Graduation awards at San Marin this year and for years to come will look different as NUSD takes a new approach by eliminating Valedictorian and Salutatorian honors. NUSD is aiming to move towards a broader idea of success that allows students to take classes they are truly interested in, rather than achieving the highest Grade Point Average (GPA) possible. 

This will be done by replacing the honor of Valedictorian and Salutatorian with the honor of Distinguished Scholar to reflect the many aspects of success a student must achieve in order to  prepare for today’s society.

Director of Student Success at NUSD, Jen Larson, has been working towards this change.

“The honor of valedictorian and salutatorian isn’t capturing the success of all the students,” Larson said

 The movement to eliminate Valedictorian honors was influenced by NUSD’s Graduate Profile and Equity Imperative. The Graduate Profile and Equity Imperative states that all students should demonstrate proficiency in the academic and social skills identified in the graduate profile. These six C’s requirements include character, communicator, conscientious learner, culturally competent, collaborator, and critical thinking. 

“The recognition system will reward our students for genuine academic success based on their academic accomplishments,” Larson said. “We will celebrate the growth assets of the students.”

NUSD has designed graduation awards that will recognize the academic success of every student who meets the standards of excellence recognized by the state of California. 

The two awards consist of the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma and the Seal of Biliteracy. If a student receives either of these two awards, they will be a Distinguished Scholar.

In former years, Valedictorian and Salutatorian were given to the graduating seniors with the highest grade point average, or GPA.

“The Valedictorian and Salutatorian honor are just local awards, they won’t benefit our students after graduation,” Larson Said. “With the new awards, students will have it stamped on their diploma and it will mean much more.”

 In addition, the ASB president and Senior class president will now give graduation speeches due to the removal of Valedictorian and Salutatorian awards. 

San Marin’s 2019 Valedictorian, Jackson Hilton, agreed with NUSD’s decision to change the requirements because it gives a more diverse group of students a chance for recognition. 

“More kids will get to be recognized for their hard work and get to share that joy of feeling accomplished,” said Hilton. 

Senior Nicky Stevens expressed the importance of recognizing the hard work of multiple students.

“Removing this competition allows more students to explore classes they are genuinely interested in and it takes away unneeded stress,” Stevens said. “It’s important that we recognize the hard work of more than just one student.” 

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