"Cum Laude With Honors" Graduation Recognition at Oak Park High School
Historical Perspective: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 21 Honors & 20 AP). As school enrollments have increased it also became increasingly difficult to ensure 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. The adoption of a "cum laude with honors" recognition program at graduation was approved by the OPUSD School Board on 10/21/08 effective with the class of 2010.
The categories for distinction under the "Cum Laude with Honors” graduation recognition program are as follows:
“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:
- Summa Cum Laude - meaning “with the highest praise” is the highest recognition awarded at graduation. To qualify for summa cum laude, a student must achieve a 3.90 or higher unweighted 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 unweighted 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 unweighted grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
# Semesters of Honors/AP courses required for Honors recognition
with “Highest Honors”
with “High Honors”
.5 – 5.5
Summary:The net result of the combined “Cum Laude with Honors” recognition will look like this on the student's diploma seal:
- 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 one.
- 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
Amendments:1) The following amendment was approved by the OPUSD School Board on 5/21/13.The Honors at Graduation changes were approved by the Board effective with the class of 2010. This became our new “Honors at Graduation” program and replaced the concept of salutatorian and valedictorian. The rationale for this change was to adopt a form of recognition that is used by most colleges and universities to acknowledge their most successful students. Additionally, we wanted to provide recognition to more of our outstanding seniors than the current valedictorian/salutatorian programs allowed.However, each school year a few students do not qualify for any recognition based on their cumulative GPA as of the 3rd quarter of their senior year (i.e. below a 3.5 unweighted GPA) Additionally, some students do qualify for the program, but perhaps at a lower level based on their cumulative GPA as of the 3rd quarter of their senior year. The proposal is that both categories of these students, upon submission of a written request accompanied by a final transcript, would be able to return after fourth-quarter grades are finalized to receive a revised gold seal on their diploma that would reflect their revised Cum Laude status. Gold cords could also be given to those students who have achieved such status after their final grades are in. This is expected to affect 10-15 students each year and give them recognition. This amendment was retroactive to the class of 2010 when the Governing Board first approved the recognition program.2) The following amendment was approved by the OPUSD School Board on 1/21/2014Effective with the class of 2014 the Cum Laude GPA formula on third-quarter grades in the Senior year will be changed from carrying a full semester’s equivalent to only being weighted as one-sixteenth of the equation.