KINGDOM CITY — North Callaway R-1's administrators are weighing a potential switch to the Latin honors system for recognizing graduating students.
"This isn't just a reward system — it gives us the ability to motivate students," High School Principal Brian Jobe said.
He and school counselor Melissa Head presented the idea to North Callaway's board of education during their meeting last Thursday. No vote was taken on the matter.
Currently, students are ranked based on grade point average from highest to lowest — the school uses weighted GPA — and the top 10 percent of students earn a distinction.
"We might have kids with 4.0s that aren't represented in the top (10 percent)," Jobe said.
And those students might be penalized when applying for colleges or scholarships, Head pointed out. If a high school ranks and recognizes students by GPA, some colleges take that into account in the admissions process, only admitting the top students.
The cum laude system, by comparison, recognizes students by GPA but doesn't rank them. Any student with a 4.0 or above earns the highest distinction, summa cum laude. A GPA between 3.87-3.99 earns a magna cum laude, "with great distinction." Finally, students who earn a GPA between 3.86-3.75 graduate cum laude, "with distinction."
Students can earn the additional distinction "with honors" by completing at least six semesters during which they take at least one honors or dual credit course.
Jobe noted the high school would still choose a valedictorian and salutatorian under the Latin Honors system.
"We're not looking to get rid of the valedictorian and salutatorian," he said. "It wouldn't be fair to anyone — even the incoming freshmen. We just want to add the laude system."
Head said the Latin honors system offers several advantages over the current system, in her view.
"With the laude system, students are not as much in competition with each other," Head said. "Though we still want them to be competitive. I still want to hold them to the highest rigor."
She noted as it currently stands, some students avoid taking more challenging classes for fear of losing their ranking.
"We have kids calculating right now," Head said. "I don't want it to keep them away from those courses, because they want to take something they're sure they can get an 'A' in."
Head said a switch to the system by the end of this school year would mean recognizing six additional students with high GPA who wouldn't be recognized under the current system.
She said Fayette High School and some other Missouri high schools already use the Latin honors system. The system is also common at colleges.
Discussion about the potential switch will continue at the school board's March meeting. North Callaway Board of Education meetings take place at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.