The first reading of a new academc honors policy was approved 5-0 Tuesday evening at the Bell County Board of Education meeting.

The changes, outlined below, will begin with the graduating class of 2022 and incorporate the Latin honors system of Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Maxima Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude while keeping the currnet formula used to determine Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

The board took action to amend their policy after the Bell County High School Site-based Decision Making Council announced it’s own changes that would do away with Valedictorian and Salutatorian starting next year. Several parents and students hoping to earn those distinctions complained that the changes were made without their consent.

Acting Superintendent Tom Gambrel explained that the high school had tried to create a policy to change the way academic success was honored.

“They wanted to move away from having a top ten and move more toward the Latin honors system,” he said. “Their intention was to  try to level the field for some kids they may not have the same opportunities as others.”

The board became involved because there was already a board policy in place saying there would be a Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

“Those are distinctions that I think the school should recognize,” Gambrel said. “But I do like the criteria under the Latin system that separates the very high performing students that are in dual credit and AP courses. It rewards students for performing well in hard classes.”

He said the new policy also allows students to be recognized for performing well though they might not be on the college tract.

Rising senior Chase Huff and rising junior Bub Treece were among the students attending Tuesday’s meeting. They were both satisfied with the updated board policy.

“My main thing was making sure there would still be an opproturnity for Valedictorian and Salutatorian,” Treece said. “I also didn’t want a system that would somehow work out to where we’d have four or five Valedictorians.”

“I feel okay with the system that’s proposed here on this paper we got about 30 minutes ago,” Huff said. “Before that we were all under the impresion that the new system was a complete trainwreck.”

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