No more valedictorians: Virginia Beach School Board votes to remove class ranking system

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Virginia Beach School Board voted 7-3 to get rid of the class ranking system for graduating seniors in a meeting Tuesday night.

In the policy, numerical class ranks will no longer be calculated and there won't be valedictorians or salutatorians. Instead, the Latin Honors System will be used, which is widely seen in colleges and universities.

The three board members voting against the policy include Victoria Manning, Joel McDonald, and Carolyn Weems, all for different reasons. Manning talked about her experience as an athlete and how stress can make a person the best they can be.

"We need to be raising the bar for our students, not lowering it. These are the reasons I cannot support the proposed policy," said Manning.

Benjamin Purvis, the student who helped introduce the idea to the school board more than a year and a half ago, was in the room, anxiously awaiting the vote.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic," said Purvis about the vote, who is a junior. "The main issue was equity within the school system. We wanted to see all students were addressed and had a fair chance at achieving a class rank."

Board member McDonald talked about this before the vote. "Students who are at schools, academies or programs where students in those programs have access to rigorous coursework that lends them higher GPAs. The concern by students was we don’t have the ability to be recognized because we don't have access."

All high school principals attended the meeting, unanimously supporting the removal of class ranks. One principal said this new system will allow students to be more focused on learning.

"This really allows students to pursue their passions and what they really want to learn about without having to worry about that competitive advantage of taking that class because it’s a weighted course," said Daniel Smith, who is the principal at Kellam High School.

The Latin system is as follows:

  • Student with a GPA above 3.0 would be considered an honor graduate.
  • Students with a 3.5-3.75 cumulative grade point average as Cum Laude (with honors)
  • Students with a 3.76-3.99 cumulative GPA as Magna Cum Laude (with high honors)
  • Students with a 4.0 and above as Summa Cum Laude (with highest honors).

This will take effect for the graduating class of 2022.

Related:

No more valedictorians? Virginia Beach considers getting rid of class ranks