Mundelein High School ditches class rank, valedictorians -- again

 
 
Updated 4/19/2017 4:22 PM
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  • Valedictorian Kevin Fung speaks to Mundelein High School's Class of 2016 during last year's graduation ceremony. The school board on Tuesday voted to eliminate class rank and with it the tradition of naming a valedictorian and salutatorian.

      Valedictorian Kevin Fung speaks to Mundelein High School's Class of 2016 during last year's graduation ceremony. The school board on Tuesday voted to eliminate class rank and with it the tradition of naming a valedictorian and salutatorian. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer, 2016

Starting with next year's freshmen, Mundelein High School students no longer will be formally ranked by GPA.

The District 120 board on Tuesday voted to eliminate class rank -- and with it the tradition of honoring each class's valedictorian and salutatorian, the graduates with the top two GPAs.

Proponents of the change said class rank is playing a smaller and smaller role in college admissions. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, course rigor, GPA, standardized test scores, essays and other factors are weighed more.

School board member Jane Siegal said she hopes eliminating class rank will encourage students to be more daring when they choose classes, as opposed to simply selecting advanced courses that could boost their GPAs with extra points.

It may also encourage students to pursue more courses in the arts, which often don't come with the potential for extra points, Siegal said.

"If a kid wants to be in band, that shouldn't be a disadvantage," Siegal said.

Mundelein did away with class rank and the valedictorian and salutatorian honors once before, starting with the Class of 1996.

At the time, officials said the move was designed to ease the competitive pressures students feel and prevent some teens from taking less challenging classes solely to ensure higher GPAs.

Instead of using rank, Mundelein recognized top graduates with different honors based on grade-point average: cum laude, magna cum laude or -- at the highest level -- summa cum laude.

The school reinstated valedictorian and salutatorian honors in 2004 but continued the cum laude program.

The cum laude recognitions will remain in use.

Stevenson High, Libertyville High, Vernon Hills High, Warren Township High, Lake Forest High and Highland Park High are among the schools that have dropped the practice in recent years.

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