New academic award systems allow more students to be recognized

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Logan Cogley

The end of the year academic awards’ system has changed; now being centered around a student’s GPA.

It has been a little over a year since big events like prom and graduation were canceled. However, some of these events are making a comeback, one of which being the end-of-year academic awards.

In the past, the awards were based on student nominations from each academic department. Heidi Trollope, the Honors Algebra 2 level lead said, “So usually we would discuss as a team, any outstanding freshman or sophomore students that were in our classes and just kind of discuss why we felt like they were outstanding and then nominate a student.”

The criteria for the nominated students were subject to each department and grade level they were in. Most often, though, the nominees were chosen based on their performance in the class and any characteristics they demonstrated that made them stand out from their peers.

Last year’s ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions; this year, while the awards are coming back, many aspects of the awards system and ceremony have changed. “Awards this year are by GPA only – no department awards this time around,” Activity Director, Kevin Ames, said.

The main reason for the big change in this year’s awards is because of complications and wanting to take precautions with the coronavirus. “Award nights have been streamlined somewhat this year – due to the pandemic and wanting to keep gatherings of students and others to a minimum as much as possible,” Ames said.

The new criteria for deciding who will win an award is based on an individual’s GPA and which grade level they are in. For freshmen, winners will need a GPA of 4.0 or above, to receive an award. Sophomores will need a GPA of 3.9 or above. Juniors need a 3.8 in order to win. Then finally, seniors will need at least a GPA of 3.7 to receive an award this year. 

How the winners will receive their awards has been slightly altered as well this year. Freshmen will receive their awards through the mail; while, the sophomores, juniors, and seniors will receive their awards at an award ceremony.

The ceremonies in the past were held in the auditorium but now they will take place at the football field. “Students will walk on the track as their names are read by a member of the counseling department and congratulated by Mr. Serrano before returning to their seat,” Ames said. The three grades will hold their ceremonies on May 3rd for sophomores, May 11th for juniors, and May 18th for seniors. 

The goal is to help with distancing people who want to attend and hopefully accommodate them too,” Ames said. 

More information about each night will be sent out to the winners through email and notifications on Infinite Campus, starting on the week of April 16th for sophomores. During the following weeks, information will be sent out to the juniors and seniors that will receive awards.

Many teachers have also not been bothered by the change from department-based awards to GPA-based awards. Science department head Jerry Bell said, “I don’t really say whether it is a positive or a negative I think right now it’s just because of COVID, and the restrictions that we have. We would normally have the whole auditorium filled with parents and students and I just think we are restricted and that is why they made the change.”

Trollope said about the change, “I don’t necessarily feel like that probably will change a ton of what ends up happening as far as our awards…Generally speaking, students who we nominate are doing pretty well. They are probably all going to have a similar GPA, I’d assume.”

So with this new award system in place, it has the opportunity to recognize more of the student population, on above and beyond, academic achievement.