GRADUATION RECOGNITION PROGRAM
The Valedictorian/Salutatorian program used prior to the class of 2010 was created circa 1995 for the purpose of recognizing our top students at graduation. At that time there had been some students who moved into our district from other schools where students had access to more Honors courses than were offered at Oak Park High School. When those additional courses were factored into their weighted GPA’s it gave them an advantage in the Valedictorian & Salutatorian selection process. The committee proposed that only those students who have taken the most rigorous curriculum in all subject areas – but only in courses that were available to all Oak Park students would be eligible for Valedictorian or Salutatorian consideration.
Since 1995 the number of AP/Honors courses offered at Oak Park nearly doubled (currently 8 Honors & 17 AP). As school enrollments have increased it also became increasing difficult to insure that all OPHS students actually had access to all of the AP/Honors courses we offered. Additionally, we further limit access to our Honors/AP courses through the use of Prerequisites as well as the limitations on the number of sections we can offer due to budgetary constraints.
To address the aforementioned concerns the following changes were recommended to be effective with the class of 2010. A new “Cum Laude With Honors” recognition program now replaces the concept of designating a valedictorian and salutatorian at graduation. The rationale for this change was to adopt a form of recognition that most colleges and universities use to acknowledge their most successful students at graduation. Additionally, we wanted to provide recognition to more of our outstanding seniors than the valedictorian/salutatorian concept allowed.
For the purpose of calculating the qualifying grade point averages, all classes posted on the OPHS transcript would be included, up to and including the third quarter of the students’ senior year. Since all grades have been unweighted since 2006 (effective with the class of 2010), the GPA ranges below will also be unweighted.
The categories for distinction under the proposed “Cum Laude with Honors” graduation recognition program are as follows:
- Summa Cum Laude - meaning “with the highest praise” is the highest recognition awarded at graduation. To graduate summa cum laude, a student must achieve a 3.90 or higher grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
- Magna Cum Laude – meaning “with great praise” is the second highest recognition awarded at graduation. To qualify for magna cum laude, a student must achieve a 3.70 – 3.89 grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
- Cum Laude – meaning “with praise” is the third recognition awarded at graduation. To qualify for cum laude, a student must achieve a 3.50 – 3.69 grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
“With Honors” Designation:
The OPHS ASB & Faculty proposed the following additions to the Cum Laude recognition levels to honor those students who have excelled in Honors & AP curriculum. The following Honors distinctions would be added based on the number of (Honors & AP) semesters a student will have completed through the end of their Senior Year:
# Semesters of Honors/AP courses required for Honors recognition
with “Highest Honors”
with “High Honors”
.5 – 5.5
Students must have a minimum 3.5 unweighted GPA to qualify for any of these Honors levels.
Honors course semesters will count as .5, and AP semesters will count as 1
The net result of the combined “Cum Laude with Honors” recognition will look like this on the student's diploma seal:
Students who have not taken any AP or Honors courses, but did meet one of the Cum Laude GPA benchmarks would still receive the following distinctions on their diploma seal, and be allowed to wear the gold cord around their necks during the graduation ceremony, which all Cum Laude honorees receive:
- Summa Cum Laude with (Highest Honors, High Honors, Honors or with Distinction)
- Magna Cum Laude with (Highest Honors, High Honors, Honors or with Distinction)
- Cum Laude with (Highest Honors, High Honors, Honors or with Distinction)
- Summa Cum Laude
- Magna Cum Laude
- Cum Laude
(OPUSD School Board Approved 10/21/08)