- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

OCALA, Fla. (AP) - Vanguard High School in Ocala could be called Valedictorian High.

On Friday, the school will have 27 valedictorians at its 2015 graduation ceremony, a figure that amounts to 7.3 percent of the 370 seniors at Vanguard, the Ocala Star-Banner reports (https://bit.ly/1eNc1od).

Since 2012, Vanguard has named 99 valedictorians, an average of nearly 25 per year.

It’s not that the school is being lax. All 28 students last year earned straight A’s in 24 college-level courses and had perfect 5.0 weighted grade point averages.

This year, students had to clear greater hurdles. That included scoring at least a 29 on the ACT or a 1,290 on the SAT. They also had to complete 100 community service hours and pass state-mandated Algebra 1, geometry and U.S. history exams.

The school could make the valedictorian distinction even more difficult to obtain by factoring the grades for all electives courses as well, but a Marion school committee opted against that choice recently.

The committee said it wanted to give students a template to become valedictorian, while also trying to eliminate the possibility of favoritism by teachers and competition for the top spot.

Each school district can develop its own valedictorian policy.

“Some districts (in Florida) no longer even name valedictorians,” said Cheryl Etters, a Florida Department of Education spokeswoman.

At Gainesville High School, for example, each student with perfect grades receives a medal and is named a “distinctive scholar.”

Some districts across the nation use actual numeric averages, as opposed to the GPA method, in each course to determine the class ranking. That process eliminates ties.

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Information from: Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner, https://www.starbanner.com/

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