Two weeks back, the Breakfast Flakes highlighted an email from a Lockwood Mother about the lack of a Valedictorian ceremony at graduation. After the wave of support for this celebration from parents across Billings, Lockwood, and Montana itself... it was clear the celebration WAS wanted. I reached out to Lockwood Schools last week about this issue, and Tobin Novasio (Lockwood Schools Superintendent) cleared up the confusion.

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The Plan Going Forward

In a two-page long statement, Tobin wanted to stress that no changes were made. Lockwood has never had a graduation, and they are literally writing the book as they go, creating "traditions". Lockwood moved away from these titles as part of an extensive list of decisions in creating the high school academic program from the ground up.

He also stressed that this information has been included in the Lockwood Student Handbook for the entirety of the Lockwood High School experience, and has been discussed at Patental Advisory Committee meetings. And with this being known, nobody had a concern until recently.

Why Not Celebrate Valedictorians?

According to Superintendent Novasio:

Schools nationwide are moving away from these specific honors. A generation ago most students would graduate having taken the vast majority of same classes as their peers, but in a modern high school this is no longer the case. Students now have much greater options for Advanced Placement classes, dual credit opportunities, career tracts, internships and many other choices. Grade point averages are no longer comparing “apples to apples,” which is one of the reasons we planned on moving towards the collegiate model of graduation honors. One of our priorities is to prepare kids for success at their next step; for high school students, their next step could be a career, the military, or higher education. We believed it also made sense to use the same honors system the university system and private colleges in the state use to honor their graduates. Additionally, scholarships are based off of class rank not this title.

Tobin wanted to mention he was unsure where this all came from suddenly, as their goal was not to suppress students with excellent grades. The actual goal was to steer students toward pursuing THEIR interests and to take classes that might be tougher than classes with a higher "weight" toward the GPA, rather than focusing on their GPA exclusively.

Lockwood Celebrates Their Students

Tobin also shared that Lockwood DOES celebrate students in all departments, no matter the context. They have gone out of their way to honor former top-earning academic students even though they graduated from other area high schools. And they always planned on celebrating their top academic students, but by doing so without using those titles.

Right now, the big plan is to have the valedictory addresses at the ceremony, and a designated area for the top GPA student to be honored with their photo and name placed permanently.

Lockwood Admits And Accepts The Fault On Communication

To end his release, Tobin stated the district did NOT do a good enough job of sharing their reasoning behind these decisions, and their existing plans with parents, students, and the community at large... and they apologize for that.

Going forward, Tobin along with Principal Klasna will be making recommendations to their trustees in order to add an addendum to the High School Handbook, setting the processes for selecting Valedictorian(s) and Salutatorian(s).

What are your thoughts on this whole situation? Let us know on App Chat or Facebook.

Click here for the entire release from Lockwood Superintendent Tobin Novasio.

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