When it’s time for current eighth graders in Pueblo City Schools (D60) to accept their diplomas, they will do so under a tiered Latin Laude Honors Systems based on cumulative GPAs.
The new graduation guideline policy was formally adopted on second reading by the D60 board of education during an April 12 special meeting.
The laude honor system will replace the traditional valedictorian and salutatorian honor system and class ranking by granting graduates Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude titles — determined by computing the cumulative (rather than weighted) GPA and the number of honors/advanced, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Concurrent Enrollment courses taken.
In the new format, an “A” — 100-90 percent — will be worth four points, a “B” three, a “C” two and a “D” one.
On a 4.0 GPA scale, a Summa Cum Laude honor is reserved for those with a 3.9 or higher GPA, followed by Magna Cum Laude (3.7-3.89 GPA) and Cum Laude (3.5-3.69).
In addition, the following Honors Designations will recognize students who have excelled in higher level courses: “Distinction” (9 or more honor points); “Honors” (6-8.5 points); and “Merit” (3-5.5 honor points).
Across the board, all high graduates will, starting in 2022, need to compile 24 credits, through one of three career avenue plans of course study, and complete 20 community involvement hours.
From the first reading, the policy’s directive regarding the selection of commencement speakers had been adjusted, per the board’s direction.
The original proposal saw the selection of commencement speakers left to the discretion of each high school. Through discussion with high school principals, the following new language was arrived at:
“The method for selecting the top scholar student commencement speaker(s) shall include the student’s level of Honors Designation earned, cumulative grade point average and overall highest SAT test score.”
In presenting the information, literacy specialist Shaynee Jesik told the board that in meeting with principals, “They did feel that it’s in the best interest to have a consistent practice among the four high schools.”
Based on the criteria, more than one academic scholar may be selected to speak. Additionally, Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso noted, “Every high school has various traditions and would maintain the other speakers, based on the school’s tradition.”
Board President Barb Clementi, however, asserted that the proposed policy language was not clear enough. She pressed for something more consistent and specific.
“This does not say how the speaker is going to be chosen. It says it’s going to include those things,” Clementi said.
At that point, board counsel Richard Bump offered the following language, which was placed into the policy: “The method for selecting the top scholar student commencement speaker(s) shall be determined based upon the following factors in priority order: the student’s Honors Designation level earned; cumulative GPA; and highest state administered SAT test score.”
Clementi also questioned whether honors courses would still be offered for freshmen and sophomores in all high schools, with Jesik applying in the affirmative before offering a rundown of the available courses.
“We’re not eliminating honors courses at ninth and tenth grade. We are offering advanced coursework at all grade levels for all students,” Jesik said.
In other action, the board unanimously accepted Macaluso’s administrative leadership appointments:
Dana Ditomaso-Junkman, assistant principal at Franklin School of Innovation, will become principal effective Aug. 1.
Kym LeBlanc-Esparza, superintendent of Newberg (Oregon) School District, will become the district’s executive director of secondary education and Career and Technical Education effective July 2.
And Jimmie Pool, assistant principal of Minnequa Elementary School, will become principal of Carlile Elementary School effective Aug. 1.