Changes will pave the way for early graduation and new guidelines for valedictorians

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When most people  think of senior year, they imagine nine months of “lasts.” Your last football game, last dance and last class.

Next year’s senior class will have the opportunity to cut those “last moments” in half. For possibly the first time ever, seniors will be given the opportunity to graduate at the end of the fall semester.

According to Dr Joe Hornback, principal, if seniors earned seven credits every year, they could theoretically have their 24 credits by the end of their seventh semester. However, there was no procedure that allowed them to be done with school in December.

“So all we did here was put a procedure in place that if they wanted to, there is now an application students  can fill out and apply to graduate early,” Hornback said.

Hornback added that students who want to graduate early must be on pace for 24 credits and complete their senior project in time to present at the December boards. They must also take an extra semester of English during their final fall semester.

In terms of activities, students who graduate early will still be able to go to Courtwarming, Prom, and walk at graduation in May if they want to. However, the Kansas State High School Athletic Association (KSHSAA) says that students must be enrolled in five classes to be eligible to play sports.

“If you graduate at semester, in essence you can’t play any spring sports,” Hornback said. “You’re done with high school.”

In addition to early graduation, the USD 204 board of education has approved other changes.

Starting with next year’s freshman class, a student will need to be a Kansas Honor Scholar to be eligible for valedictorian or salutatorian honors. This will require students to take more challenging courses throughout high school.

Another change includes requiring students to take Consumer and Personal Finance before they graduate.

“This class will help them [students] to become more productive citizens,” Hornback said. “It can potentially lead them to having a better life understanding how money works.