Lakeview schools consider recognizing top students

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:56 am on Tuesday, May 15, 2012

LAKEVIEW — Those who claim Lakeview Community Schools Board of Education members do not listen to the wishes of the community will have a hard time explaining the board’s recent willingness to take a second look at the high school’s policy regarding the annual naming of a valedictorian and salutatorian.

At last month’s meeting, Lakeview resident Paul Main addressed the board, noting that the high school no longer awarded those academic honors to any student. Main’s son, Dan Main, was at the top of his class in 2006 and — had the valedictorian and salutatorian tradition been in effect at the time — would have been named valedictorian.

“When he graduated, this (transcript) was all he got from this school,” Main said at the April 9 meeting. “Dan ranked No. 1; I’m sure someone else ranked No. 2. For that accomplishment, Dan got this transcript and no kind of recognition from the school.”

Main also noted that in past years, the valedictorian and salutatorian would appear as featured speakers at the graduation ceremony.

“Why don’t we recognize academic excellence?” Main said. “This is something we need to work on; maybe not this year but for next year.”

Several members of the board agreed with Main at that time, saying the matter should be reviewed. In the past month, that’s exactly what has happened.

Board member Dave England researched the issue and spoke with Lakeview High School Principal Gary Jensen. What England learned was that the naming of a valedictorian and salutatorian had been discontinued by an earlier administration because it was suspected some students were signing up for easy classes simply to raise their grade point average in hopes of landing the school’s top honor.

It was believed at the time that the practice discouraged some of the school’s most academically gifted students from taking the advanced classes designed especially for them.

According to England, in recent months, Jensen has been trying to come up with a better system for choosing the school’s top two students each year, one that takes into account other factors beyond simple academic achievement. At the board’s Monday meeting, England explained what he has learned so far.

“I did some background research and found out that Mr. Jensen has been trying to put together a new system,” England said. “It was originally dropped because some kids were not taking hard classes in an effort to keep their grades up.”

Though still in its formative stages, the system Jensen is working on will, in theory at least, allow for a valedictorian and salutatorian without concerns that students will avoid difficult classes. When Jensen has put the finishing touches on that system, he will present it to the board.

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