The verdict is in.
As of Monday, May 20, the decision on whether the awards of Valedictorian and Salutatorian were to remain for the Providence Academy graduating class of 2013 were made. In a private meeting the Friday before, Upper School Director Dr. Kevin Ferdinandt gave the power of the decision over to the six senior students who held the highest academic GPAs.
They were presented with a unique opportunity: either they could keep the awards of Valedictorian and Salutatorian, or they could opt to relinquish the awards, simultaneously losing the opportunity to gain them themselves.
Dr. Ferdinandt asked them to consider the proposition, discuss the situation with their parents, and then reply by email with their vote by Monday. A two-thirds majority was needed for the prolongation or abolition of the awards, and four out of the six students voted to dissolve the awards of Valedictorian and Salutatorian.
There will be no Valedictorian or Salutatorian at this year’s graduation.
Providence Academy, along with the abolition of Valedictorian and Salutatorian, is implementing a new awards program immediately this year. The awards of cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude will be awarded to students whose academic successes have earned them recognition. They are based on meeting certain class and GPA specifications.
At this year’s senior awards banquet on May 29, 19 students graduated “with honors.”
Cum laude were Alex O’Neill, Charles Christianson, Nick Bohlke, Eric Richelson, Susanna Trombley, Mackenzie Braun, Kasia Paprocki, Laura Clark, and Rosie Simonse.
Magna cum laude were Greg Morey, Charles Warner, Maxwell Baird, Margaret Clipperton, Joe Heck, and Ashlen Hagelberg.
Summa cum laude were Nicholas Heise, Julia Hengel, Clare Burns, and Patrick Gage.
According to Dean of Students, Mr. Michael Tiffany, the implementation of these three brackets of awards would be to “reward them for trying their hardest the entire time”.
The criteria that accompanies the cum laude award is that one has to have a high GPA, or if the student is not a math or science student so they are barred from honors courses, then they must have strong grades in the humanities as well as a high GPA.
A student must have taken at least six honors classes to be awarded the magna cum laude and eight honors classes to be awarded the summa cum laude. All along with impressive cumulative GPAs.
According to Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders, the introduction of the new awards will be beneficial to Providence Academy, rather than the “zero sum game” he spoke of in The PAW’s last meeting with him on the issue.
“We don’t want anybody here to graduate with hard feelings,” said Dr. Flanders.
The other reason behind the change was a perversion of student vision. That is that students would work in Upper School primarily for the award, perhaps missing out on other extra-curricular opportunities and advancements.
The approach PA has taken is more democratic, appealing to the students, and even though the Valedictorian and Salutatorian positions would surely have been abolished for the graduating class of 2014, it would immediately affect the Seniors of 2013.
“We think we need a clear majority to say we’d like to suspend those,” Dr. Flanders said. And a clear majority was what he had- four out of six of the top academic students voted to abolish the awards. However, other students present at the meeting, such as Clare Burns ’13, feel disappointed with the results.
“I understand why they’re doing it, and I guess I would support it next year, but I don’t think it’s fair that they dropped it on us this year,” Burns said.
The six seniors were given this proposition a week before school ended, making the possibility of a substantial change quite sudden.
Several other award winners were recognized at this week’s awards banquet. Kasia Paprocki and Max Baird received the Fine Arts awards; Ryan Tapani and Nathalie Ratliff, the Athletics awards; and Patrick Gage and Ashlen Hagelberg, the highest awards of Faith Knowledge and Virtue.