Huntsville High School senior pushing back after graduation honors changed

Ella Burch has ranked first in her class for the past two years and was on track to become valedictorian.

Posted: Aug 8, 2019 6:52 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2019 7:43 AM

A Huntsville High School senior is fighting back against the school board after the decision was made to remove honoring a valedictorian or salutatorian at graduation. 

Ella Burch has ranked first in her class for the past two years and was on track to become valedictorian.

"We entered [high school] with the mindset we have the opportunity to pursue these goals and to have that taken away this far into our high school experience was a bit unfair to me," Burch said. 

Burch says she entered freshman year of high school with a four-year plan and with a goal to become the school valedictorian. As she started her senior year at Huntsville High School, that dream was suddenly taken away from her.

"That would probably be the culmination of my achievement being recognized by all the people that have known me for so long," Burch said. 

Last month, the Huntsville City School Board approved changes to graduation honors. Seniors now will be recognized as either Magna Cum Laude for a GPA of at least 3.8 or Summa Cum Laude for a GPA of at least 4.0.

There is no longer a valedictorian or a ranking of the top twenty students in a graduating class. According to a spokesperson for the district, this will not affect scholarship opportunities because the class rankings will still be a part of the student's transcript.

Burch is on track to finish with a GPA of 4.7, the highest in her class of 400 students. She says multiple other classmates do not agree with the change as well.

"I hope to reach out to the other schools and the other kids in my school that are going to be affected by this policy and are upset by this policy change coming last minute," Burch said. 

Burch tells WAAY 31 she is in favor of adding the new recognition, but doesn't think others should be removed. She says the new policy should have started with the incoming freshman class only.

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