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Tue, Dec. 10

PUSD should honor student excellence

It's no surprise the Prescott Unified School District Governing Board is discussing the issue of having a high school valedictorian and salutatorian during its planning retreat.

This past year, for the 2006 graduation only, the board accepted a Prescott High School site council recommendation and instead honored "Graduates with Distinction."

The move enraged many in the community. It smacked of political correctness.

"Graduates with Distinction" (Supt. Kevin Kapp said 17 sat on the dais at the 2006 graduation) do have to meet some challenging criteria.

They must accumulate 24 credits (instead of the minimum 22 for graduation), take at least one advanced placement class and pass its exam, have a minimum 4.0 grade point average and complete the 16 credit hours of courses necessary to attend college in Arizona.

Some have argued that under current rules, students who took no advanced placement classes and other easy courses could become valedictorian or salutatorian.

Board member Tom Staley had a good answer for that concern: Tweak the criteria for choosing the valedictorian and salutatorian to level that playing field.

If the district wants to continue the "Graduates with Distinction," fine. But it still needs to honor the best of the best. Otherwise it sends the message that avoiding hurt feelings is more important than encouraging a quest for excellence.

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