Latin honors system will laud more outstanding graduates

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 3:00pm
A smiling graduate holds up a diploma. Two other smiling graduates stand next to him.

For years, high schools have selected just one valedictorian and salutatorian.

In an effort to celebrate a greater number of deserving students and encourage a variety of academic pursuits, the Five Star District is changing the way it recognizes the academic excellence of its graduating seniors.

Starting with the graduating class of 2025 (students who are currently freshmen), the district will transition to a Latin honors approach rather than selecting just one valedictorian and salutatorian from each school. It is often a very small difference in GPA that separates valedictorian and salutatorian from one another, as well as from other top-performing students. 

“We have heard from our students that the pursuit of the valedictorian and salutatorian titles can lead students to bypass courses they may be interested in because they would negatively affect their GPA, even if they earned the highest possible grade,” Executive Director of High Schools Lee Peters said. 

“This is especially true when it comes to ‘unweighted' classes such as career and technical education (CTE), visual and performing arts, and other elective classes. Transitioning to Latin honors will encourage both high academic achievement and the pursuit of a wide range of academic interests.”

In order to earn a Latin Honor designation, students must have a cumulative GPA (calculated at the completion of first semester of the senior year) of:

  • 4.250 and above - Summa Cum Laude

  • 4.000 - 4.249 - Magna Cum Laude

  • 3.750 - 3.999 - Cum Laude

Latin Honors (Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude) are widely used by colleges and universities and by a growing number of high schools across our state and throughout the country. As a result, it is familiar and understandable to parents, college admission officers, and prospective employers. 

The advantages of Latin Honors:

  • Recognizes and incentivizes high performance for a greater percentage of deserving students

  • Reduces what can become an unhealthy level of competition among students vying for valedictorian and salutatorian

    • Students no longer have to root against one another as one student’s recognition does not come at the expense of another student missing out on that recognition

  • Encourages the pursuit of a wide range of classes and interests, such as career and technical education (CTE), visual and performing arts, and other “non-weighted” classes 

  • Aligns with colleges and universities and is understood by college admissions offices

The transition to a Latin honors system will eliminate the valedictorian and salutatorian identification. Class rank will no longer be published on transcripts or used for identifying student performance. Each school will maintain class rank and will be able to provide it to any organization requesting it for applications for college admittance, scholarships, local, state or national awards.  

The current system of identifying a valedictorian and salutatorian will be maintained for the graduating classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024, as those students are already working toward established goals and plans. Adams 12 Five Star Schools will implement the new Latin Honor system beginning with the current ninth-grade class. The graduating class of 2025 will be the first to earn recognition through the Latin Honor system.