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BHS seniors propose changes

April 5, 2013

BLACKFOOT — A group of Blackfoot High School students have presented proposals for consideration to the Blackfoot School Board on weighted grades and how graduation speakers are selected in hopes of making a change for future generations of Blackfoot High School graduates.
The six seniors - Bailey Dann, Ryan Murdoch, Alexis Lloyd, Alice Cannon, Julia Blackburn and Kristin Ferm (an exchange student from Sweden) - all with varying backgrounds, interests and GPA's - contend that the current system of determining honor status, the Top 10 students and graduation speakers is an inaccurate reflection of the class ranking (which can affect college acceptance and scholarships) and that it "creates contention among the graduates."
"We are trying to make a change to alleviate contention and animosity between students and to give kids more of an initiative to take harder classes in the future," said Cannon.
Under the advisement of teacher Holly Kartchner, the students started the change initiative in November by gathering the signatures of students, faculty, parents and community members.
"We knew we would need to gather signatures to go before the school board, so we did a quick petition and gathered over 250 signatures from anyone with a connection to Blackfoot High School who is supportive of our ideas," Murdoch said.
The students ask that "more credit be given for grades in hard classes," proposing that "grades would always be reported in weighted (AP, CNA and Dual Enrollment) and non-weighted (traditional) classes/GPA's. Weighted GPA is only used for determination of honor status - Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude."
The students also propose that "BHS no longer continue with a valedictorian, salutatorian or "Top Ten in Class" and that all students who have earned 'honor status' be recognized in the graduation program with special tassels and insignia."
One of the more controversial issues that the students bring up is that, "graduation speakers be nominated by faculty and students and then try out in front of peers and faculty. The speakers would be based on academic merit alone, but as the person that students and faculty believe will best represent the class."
"This would include musical numbers at graduation. "We have some amazing musical talent at our school that often goes unnoticed." said Blackburn.
While the students realize that nothing will change for their graduation on May 31, they hope that they have started the ball rolling for change in the near future.
"We feel strongly about this; we started it and hopefully we can get some of the kinks worked out so that change will come to future graduating classes," Blackburn added. "We are doing this for the future of Blackfoot High School."
Blackfoot School District Superintendent Chad Struhs said he believes that the students have some valid points and that the school board and BHS's Academic Council are taking the proposals into consideration.
"We will be taking a hard look into this and considering any intended or unintended consequences of the proposals," Struhs said. "If the ideas are viable for the school they may be pursued."

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