High school students who excel not singled out, share distinction

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Students who receive perfect scores at Moffat County High School aren't recognized as valedictorians or salutatorians during the school's commencement ceremonies.

It's a concern that some residents take issue with.

"I think it sort of gets in the way of individual ambition," said Elmer Monahan. Monahan wrote a letter to the editor on this topic that criticized the school district for recognizing more than one top student.

"Whoever makes the cut, that should be the way that it is," he said. "It provides a good deal of stiff competition which is very good."

Although the school's top two scorers aren't recognized with the formal titles, any student who earns an academic 4.0 grade point average by the end of the high school career can claim the title.

Students with valedictorian qualities are recognized with the distinction in the commencement brochure and can claim the status for relevant scholarships or college applications, said Paula Duzik, counselor at Moffat County High School.

Students in the top 10 percent of the GPA percentile are also honored at the graduation ceremony.

"I don't know how we'd pick them out," Duzik said of all the students with perfect scores.

Last year, eight students had perfect scores and three were considered the runner-up.

Students are enrolled in classes of varying degrees of difficulty. Without the option of Advanced Placement classes the highest GPA possible is a 4.0.

Student commencement speakers aren't chosen by their academic record but by a faculty panel based after they try out, Duzik said.

Amanda Wooten graduated from the high school last year. She thought the commencement ceremony would have been more poignant for all students if the valedictorian and salutatorian titles were exclusive.

"I think if they just chose one or two people it would make it a lot easier," she said.

Wooten disagreed that students would opt to take easier classes in an effort to try and earn the top spots. And students already know their standing among peers through regular report cards.

"A lot of these kids already take hard classes," she said. "You can't have an easy schedule and get through high school."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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