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Southampton School District Officials Do Away With Val And Sal

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Shaye Weaver   Nov 28, 2012 10:00 AM
Nov 28, 2012 10:18 AM

Beginning with the class of 2014, Southampton High School students will no longer vie for the salutatorian and valedictorian distinctions.

Southampton School District Board members officially eliminated the traditional ranking and weighting system at Tuesday night’s board meeting. Instead, high school courses will not be weighted and rigor will be reflected in course titles alone. High achievers, meanwhile, will be recognized as cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude, based on academic performance.

The board also approved a new policy that would allow students to take online courses that are not offered at the school, but would be subject to the approval of Dr. Brian Zahn, principal of the high school.

After several months of reviewing the grading and ranking policy, the board finally moved toward what it sees as a more even playing field.

To qualify to graduate cum laude, or “with honors,” a student must maintain an 89 percent grade point average. A magna cum laude distinction (“high honors”) requires a 92 percent or above GPA, and a summa cum laude distinction (“highest honors”) requires a 95 percent or above GPA.

Instead of honoring just the valedictorian and salutatorian at graduation, two speakers will be selected through a “comprehensive process” by a high school commencement committee. One candidate must be chosen from the summa cum laude recipients, and the second must be a representative of the entire graduating class. The committee will be made up of administrators, faculty and staff, members of the board, parents whose children have graduated no fewer than five years earlier, and alumni who graduated no fewer than five years earlier.

Graduation speakers will be required to submit a written speech to the committee for review and be willing to first deliver the speech in front of the committee for evaluation.

The changes have faced much speculation by parents, students and some board members over the months the policies were on the table, but officials said some opponents are beginning to come around.

“After speaking with students and parents, they seem much more receptive of the changes we’re making,” Dr. Zahn said. “Based on what I’ve been hearing, it’s appropriate for us to proceed with what we’re proposing.”

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Good. It's about time. School should be about learning and scholarship should be rewarded. For too long just two students were acknowledged when in fact each year there are many outstanding kids who deserve recognition. Honoring them and their hard work will be inspirational to those who follow. The old system was intrinsically unfair because the Val and Sal positions were not attainable for students transfering into the school, even as Freshmen, due to the differences in curiculum between schools. ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 28, 12 11:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
I don't agree that only these two people get recognized and acknowledged within the school or at graduation specifically. I graduated less than ten years ago and people with honors, high honors, and highest honors were all acknowledged on the written graduation program. Besides the valedictorian and salutatorian, the entire top ten students had their pictures posted in school and were recognized by name at graduation. Additionally, there were numerous other awards presented at the graduation which ...more
By shzb12 (2), Southampton on Nov 28, 12 4:05 PM
I respectfully disagree that top students have gotten the accolades they deserved. Members of sports teams got more attention in school and in the press - litterally - than scholars. It's time that changes - Are you listening, friends, at the Southampton Press?

As for transfer students becoming val or sal, it always depended on what courses a student had taken before transfering. Some schools curriculums are behind Southamptons, some are ahead, some might be the same. If a student came ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 29, 12 6:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Could not agree more that the top students deserve recognition--each year, we profile the valedictorian and salutatorian of each class in all three of our editions in our special Graduation section.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (172), Hampton Bays on Nov 30, 12 10:45 AM
Then, please highlight scholastic achivements during the year, just as you do so well with sports. High school students take part or compete in a surprising variety of educational activities outside of their home schools. Let's hear a bit about them too, whether freshman, sophmore, junior or senior.

Their hard work and enthusiasm deserves public recognition, and in turn, a little home town publicity might inspire other students. Althletes have been given far more coverage than kids who ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Dec 1, 12 6:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
Fair point. I appreciate the input.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (172), Hampton Bays on Dec 1, 12 9:22 PM
Lets take away all competition in the interest of fairness.
By Jac-man (13), Southampton on Nov 28, 12 12:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's also been decided that we will no longer keep score in sporting events. Participants will play for a regulated amount of time with absolutely no records kept. There will be no pictures and no video allowed as well. There shall be no record of those who have excelled and those who haven't.

And here I thought competition was supposed to be healthy for kids. Apparently not.
By itsamazing (152), Southampton on Nov 28, 12 1:35 PM
You arent the smartest kid in school, you are part of a group that is equally as smart as you, and when you apply to college or go into the workforce those same rules will apply.
By Jac-man (13), Southampton on Nov 28, 12 2:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
Ridiculous.
By dagdavid (645), southampton on Nov 28, 12 2:19 PM
4 members liked this comment
The hightest average or GPA is the highest. Only one person gets the job, its doesnt matter how many apply. This is soooo ridiculous!! Dissapointment is part of everyday life and parents have to let theirkids get used to it.
By springsmom (21), East Hampton on Nov 28, 12 2:52 PM
2 members liked this comment
When everyone is super, no one is super. wow.
By WhalerFanForLife (11), Southampton on Nov 28, 12 3:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
"And when everyone is 'super'; NO ONE will be."

~ Syndrome, The Incredibles (2004)
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 28, 12 7:24 PM
what do you expect from a district that banned red pens because of the "negative connotation"? Unfortunately, in their attempts to protect the students from the big bad world, they're really just setting them up for failure when real life comes a-knocking.
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on Nov 28, 12 4:21 PM
What a crock, the leftist PS CRAP has gotten out of control. Rewarding the best and the brightest is a good thing. Are we setting our kids up for the real world with this malarkey? NOT!
By bigfresh (1135), north sea on Nov 28, 12 4:59 PM
3 members liked this comment
Reward is one thing.

A disconnected aristocracy is another.

***************, and [expletive deleted].
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 28, 12 5:13 PM
And you'll wonder why someone shot up a companies executives and employees when they didn't get the job because they cant take rejection. Very unfortunate that this is how are schools are run nowadays.
By hamptonfoody (9), southampton on Nov 28, 12 5:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
So there shall be no more incentive to strive for excellence. On top of that, speakers to represent the class shall be chosen by all but the class itself. Genius!
By VOS (572), WHB on Nov 28, 12 11:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
Please tell me you're not saying that there's no point in striving for self improvement, or excellence regardless of "reward".

The only real incentive one should need is the improvement of yourself. Do we really need a cookie every time we "do good"?
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 29, 12 5:37 AM
Boy, you are a "Stinker".

I feel like this is a "Woody Allen" moment, straight out of Annie Hall.

In fact, just in case you don't get the reference, look it up.
Nov 29, 12 9:37 PM appended by Mr. Z
"Boy, if life were only like this."
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 29, 12 9:37 PM
Of course all should strive for excellence. I have more of a problem with the fact that the graduating seniors will have no say in who represents them as speakers at THEIR graduation when it looks like everyone but the lunch ladies will have a voice.
By VOS (572), WHB on Nov 29, 12 10:06 PM
Your post was succinct to the point I had to ask. Rather uncharacteristic of you.

It should be the faculty, and graduating class in tandem who have the say if more than two "top achievers" are on hand. Academics are not everything. Civics, athletics, and other realms of societal participation are all indicative of character, and thusly "achievement".

If there are more than two candidates, democracy should prevail.
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 29, 12 10:13 PM
The Val & Sal aren't just the top academic achievers, they are also usually very involved in school civics, athletic programs and usually have an all around amazing school resume. I think this is the stupidest thing the school could do. Kids who have worked hard to achieve excellence in academics are just now tossed aside. We, as parents and as a society, have to stop this "feel good" crap. Why not just give everyone an honors diploma and be done with it, don't make the kids work for anything! ...more
By Terbear (76), Southampton on Dec 3, 12 11:01 AM
No child left behind. No child steps ahead. Stay in line, be quiet, and get graduated. Baaa
By loading... (265), quiogue on Nov 29, 12 6:06 AM
3 members liked this comment
Disturbing! A Creeping Communist trend!
By kpjc (143), east quogue on Nov 29, 12 7:29 AM
If Southampton is no longer rewarding the best academic students (those students who choose to take a rigorous course schedule and do well), does that mean there will no longer be rewards for the best athletes (no cuts - everyone plays), the best musicians (no all county musicians chosen), the best artists, etc? Let's not disappoint anyone, ever!
By susanarm (6), WATER MILL on Nov 29, 12 10:46 AM
4 members liked this comment
Sounds like ulterior motives somewhere, and appears to be an unpopular position. It is definitely unfair to students who have gone all out for academics. This affects all of our children and is one decision that should be made by vote of ALL residents of the district.
By SusieD (108), Southampton on Nov 29, 12 11:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
The school absolutely is rewarding academics with this new system. Schools across the country are doing the same thing to encourage and promote scholarship. With larger public schools naming up to a dozen Valedictorians in a graduating class - all top students, the term no longer holds the meaning it did.

The High School spent years looking into this issue and is doing the right thing. Finally, all the kids who take the most rigorous courses, and who do well, are going to be singled out ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 29, 12 1:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
More than two "high achievers"?

The hell you say...
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 29, 12 9:53 PM
What a great idea! Should have happened a long time ago....

By localyokel (9), Southampton on Nov 29, 12 3:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
you must not make you kids try very hard, why should my kid that works extra hard not get recognized and then the kids who do squat get same recogintion, YOU people who agree with this are bunch of SHEEP!!
By J. Totta (64), Sag Harbor on Nov 30, 12 9:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
I just read some of your comments and I have to add...if there was only one way to become the Val or Sal I would say go for it...but there has been a bit of controversy, in my opinion, as too how some of the previous Val's or Sal's were chosen...fishy in a way...
By localyokel (9), Southampton on Nov 29, 12 3:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
You can thank "Stinker" for what I was going to remain silent about.

I came from a graduating class from which it was difficult to choose a pair of high achievers. We had at least a dozen. When it came down to choosing our Valedictorian, it was decided that since one of the top achievers was our Class President, she should speak at Commencement.

Those of you who simply want to single out two people on merit, remain blind to the many who are on a similar level.

Evolve, ...more
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 29, 12 9:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes we had a group of high achievers. There was a 3 way tie for valedictorian with students in in AP courses who earned straight A's.

Admittedly I was not one of them, and of course they were people who disagreed with how the speaker was chosen. That's just life.
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Nov 30, 12 11:22 AM
You think all I do is "pick up garbage"?

Take some of your earned income, and purchase a lesser degree of ignorance.
Dec 1, 12 6:04 AM appended by Mr. Z
And, maybe someday when the Civic Light Opera gives you the nod for your lighting design we could discuss theatre over coffee...
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 1, 12 6:04 AM
Wow , first no red pen. Now no Val or Sal.... What are we bring up here, life is full of challenges. Why work hard to achieve excellence! Maybe we should let all the Mommies and Daddies walk are teenagers to class and do their homework so they can all live off the Government and have to take no responsibility for anything. Just more Southampton coddling..
By guest (23), Bridgehampton on Nov 29, 12 10:10 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (1135), north sea on Nov 30, 12 9:46 AM
Yay! We are all winners!!
By C Law (282), Water Mill on Nov 30, 12 10:03 AM
This isnt coddling - it is a mature decision and allows other students, not just the two top performers, to have an opportunity to speak at graduation. If anything, this may motivate other students to take time to plan and organize a speech and understand that hard work in rewarded. What are we looking for in students? Are we only interested in the brightest who do not struggle with their studies? Or are we trying to get all students to participate at a high level and become independent thinkers?
By BaymenNYC (38), Manhattan on Nov 30, 12 1:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
This country has basically moved to being number 20 in math and science due tho our pursuit of being average. Everybody gets a trophy everyone is created equal, curve the grade if they can't perform. The reality is we are not all equal at all things, and need to find what we advance in and capitalize on it. If you are the smartest you should be rewarded, if you are a great athlete you should be rewarded. Lets stop celebrating the everyone is entitled mentality it makes for weak character, and future ...more
By chief1 (1192), southampton on Nov 30, 12 9:21 PM
2 members liked this comment
"To qualify to graduate cum laude, or “with honors,” a student must maintain an 89 percent grade point average. A magna cum laude distinction (“high honors”) requires a 92 percent or above GPA, and a summa cum laude distinction (“highest honors”) requires a 95 percent or above GPA."

What part of that did your below par reading comprehension skills not garner? Crap, we don't have one gold medalist standing "a solo meo" on a podium. Christ, it's the end ...more
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 1, 12 6:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
There is NO team when you are sitting up all night studying for that test to get that 100. The Vals & Sals spend days, week nights, weekends working for the best grades. They are the ones not going out to parties all the time, because they are pushing themselves to be the best in academics in their class. When you go for a job, there is NO team during an interview, you stand alone on your merits and resume. To be Val is to stand alone on all your hard work. Trying to add "team sports analogy" ...more
By Terbear (76), Southampton on Dec 3, 12 11:17 AM
Gee, maybe you're right. Athletes don't work hard at all. NOT. To be frank, there are those who can hit the books just as many hours as a "Val", and never achieve it. Stone cold fact of being human. Either you're born with it, or a shade short and have to work harder than a natural. If you look at the way reward is incentivized in this day and age across the professional world, I can see why they've taken this path. The main arguement is there are those who choose courses just because of ...more
Dec 3, 12 7:20 PM appended by Mr. Z
And, BTW if implemented properly this just might enhance the competition for valedictorian, and produce far more prepared students. Just my opinion.
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 3, 12 7:20 PM
Sorry, that should have read: "competition for the valedictory address".
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 3, 12 7:29 PM
When you have a honor of cum laude or magna cum laude from Southampton High School it means zero. People want to know if you are the top student. Do you think those titles mean anything to a college entrane person?
I also want to know what you mean by team? Are you bringing a team to your first day of college or first job? We are raising kids that are neither independent nor have common sense. You need to stop this white glove treatment in real life everything is not easy, and there will ...more
By chief1 (1192), southampton on Dec 1, 12 6:42 PM
So, via that logic graduating college "summa cum laude" would mean nothing to a prospective employer as well?

You fail to distinguish the difference between athletics, and academics. The "gold medalist" wisecrack was a segue analogy regarding which you apparently got an "F" in sarcasm comprehension 101. As far as the "team" goes, unless you are a one man business, in one vehicle, promoting a single product, or service, then you are backed by a team every day you go to work, or head off ...more
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 2, 12 7:35 AM
I have a great idea how we can make everyone equal. I hink we should determine what the average salary for a teacher and administrator is in the state of New York and I know i's probably half of what these blowhards in Southampton make, and that i what they should get paid, lets see 50k for a teacher and maybe 75 to 80 k for an administrator. We will cut the budget in half and everyone will be equal. Then no one will have to try hard and the real world will embrace all the same way. The east end ...more
By maxwell (159), speonk on Dec 4, 12 2:14 PM
The problem is if you only take courses that are weighted, just to earn the "Val" title, you WON'T be prepared for that job you so eloquently describe.

The system has gotten wise. Deal with it.
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 4, 12 9:33 PM
You act like "weighted" classes are easy courses, they are not. Advanced physics, advanced chemistry, advanced language, etc. It's not underwater basket weaving or toenail clipping. Students choose these additionally hard classes to achieve the pinnacle of the High School success. Vals & Sals work harder and longer to achieve that title, and you want to take it away because it "isn't fair" to the other students. Well then get to studying and then you can achieve it too.
By Terbear (76), Southampton on Dec 5, 12 12:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
Uhhh, nice assumption. Couldn't be more wrong with the first sentence.

Maybe your advanced, weighted course should be how not to read your own personal feelings into another's opinion. And, possibly a nice course in deflecting your anger away from someone's opinion simply because you don't like it. That's called diplomacy, by the way.

Oh, and carbon, plus oxygen, plus silicon equals iron. I like astrophysics.

Dec 6, 12 7:50 PM appended by Mr. Z
Of course, silicon burning is a bit more complex than that...
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 6, 12 7:50 PM
No assumption, my first sentence is fact. As for my "feelings" regarding your posts, personally, I could care less, no anger here. You have your opinion and I have mine, hence the two shan't meet. You want everyone to get an A for just showing up, that's your choice. I don't know if you have children or not, but I am a parent and I don't think the school board is making a good choice. My opinion, as for weighted advanced AP classes being harder than regular classes, that is fact not an opinion.
By Terbear (76), Southampton on Dec 7, 12 10:17 AM
No, I don't "want everyone to get an A" for showing up.

So much for "no assumptions".
Dec 8, 12 2:58 AM appended by Mr. Z
What I think you fail to see is that this does reward people for hard work, and more than just solely two of them. If done properly, it can enhance the competition for the privelege of speaking at commencement. I'm quite reasonable sure there are more than two people in a graduating class who worked hard to attain their status. You really should research this decision thoroughly, and not just in this test tube of an environment. It's a trend across the nation. In fact, it bestows cachets much like graduating college. It rewards all those who worked hard to have an "A" average, not just a pair of alleged "best students". Just because you have the best GPA, doesn't automatically, or necessarily make you the hardest worker.
By Mr. Z (5952), North Sea on Dec 8, 12 2:58 AM
Ridiculous concept and surprised so many are defending it.
By dnice (1272), Hampton Bays on Dec 4, 12 8:26 PM
Again I like to see all the teachers and administrators in this overpaid district take a paycut so that they will be equal to everyone else in the state. Now that we have eliminated the rankings and everyone is equal then since the expectations for all the students are the same then it will be easier to do "thoe very difficult and costly" teacher evaluations. I guess every teacher will now get an A because they have lowered the bar so low.Circle the wagon union people circle the wagons and worry ...more
By maxwell (159), speonk on Dec 5, 12 12:28 PM
It's the school board that made this decision, not the teachers.
By Terbear (76), Southampton on Dec 6, 12 12:08 PM
He just wants to continue ranting about "all the teachers and administrators in this overpaid district" and doesn't seem to care who proposed the change.

Based on his typing skills, he has a point. His keyboarding teacher WAS overpaid.

By IPA (4), East Hampton on Dec 8, 12 2:31 PM
I guess we know where ipa stands must be one of those terribly overworked 13 weeks vacation and underpaid100k teachers we should all feel sorry for that can't get fired. It so nice when your job is garranteed and you get raises every year no matter how ineffective you are. The results SHSD gets for the money ispends is a joke and everyone knows it.
By maxwell (159), speonk on Dec 9, 12 9:13 PM
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