West Jessamine revamps graduation for class of 2014

Mia Zanzucchi

Graduation for the West Jessamine High School class of 2014 will be on June 6 (recently set as the final day of school and a half day) at Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, Ky. starting at 4 p.m.

After a series of issues, debates, surveys and opinions, the Jessamine County School Board settled on keeping Southland as the Jessamine County graduation venue for both East and West. The board had earlier determined that, based on a survey given to graduating students, a ticketing system at Southland would be better than moving the ceremonies to Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Each graduating student will receive eight tickets to be distributed among friends and family. Students who need less than eight will be asked to send any extras back so that students who need more may request so on a case by case basis, according to newly appointed WJHS principal Dr. Wells.

A mandatory three hours graduation rehearsal will be held during the week of the June 6 ceremony – “no show, no walk,” as Dr. Wells puts it.

Last year, the decision was made to cease class rankings and, inherently, the more traditional Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches. This year, three West Jessamine High School seniors will speak at graduation as well as two representatives from the senior student council and several administrators on the school and county level.

Any graduating student with a 3.0 or higher grade point average (GPA), no more than five unexcused absences and no more than one office referral was invited to submit one paragraph outlining their potential speech and why they felt they should be one of the three speakers. A combination of senior student council representatives and school board members will discuss and choose three of the nine candidates.

The idea to have students submit proposals to speak at graduation was decided by both students and administrators, according to student council adviser and 12th grade English teacher Mr. Blake. Mr. Blake also said he hopes that this will become a regular process.

The class of 2014 will also see a new honor being added to the previously existing three Latin Honors. Egregia Cum Laude, or “with outstanding praise” in Latin, will recognize students achieving a 4.5 or higher GPA over all four years of high school. The idea of adding this Latin honor to the already existing system was suggested by the school board. According to Jessamine County Schools Superintendent Kathy Fields, since East Jessamine High School does not award pre-AP points for calculating GPA, it is currently not feasible for EJHS to integrate Egregia Cum Laude into their graduation ceremony. This new honor has nothing to do with the ending of class rankings, according to Superintendent Fields.

Achieving a 4.5 GPA isn’t easy. For the class of 2014, regular-level courses and electives are weighted “normally” with an A in the course represented by a 4, a B as a 3 and so on. Accelerated classes add another 0.5 points and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are one full point higher: an A in an AP class will translate as a 5, a B as a 4 and so on. However, the Jessamine County School Board recently decided to reexamine all school GPA and ranking policies, so the policy could potentially change for later classes. Regardless of GPA policies, students honored as Egregia Cum Laude will have had to combine almost perfect grades with a rigorous class schedule.

Graduates will be notified of their Latin honor standing when final senior grades are posted the week before graduation.

Level of Honor GPA Constraints
Cum Laude “with honor” 3.500 – 3.749
Magna Cum Laude “with great honor” 3.750 – 4.099
Summa Cum Laude “with highest honor” 4.100 – 4.499
Egregia Cum Laude “with outstanding praise” 4.500 or higher

Students will learn more about these new changes to graduation at a senior meeting on Wednesday, May 7 at 11:30, where the three class speakers will also be announced, according to Senior Class President Daniel Sherfey.

Dr. Wells addressing the class of 2013 at graduation last June

Dr. Wells addressing the class of 2013 at graduation last June


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