Pasco school district takes first step to eliminate valedictorian system

Officials say system is outdated

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. - Each year high schools recognize top graduates as valedictorian or salutatorian. But in Pasco County, those high honors may soon be eliminated.

Corttney Penberthy was Wesley Chapel High School valedictorian in 2007.

She's working out of state now, but is so passionate about the need to keep recognizing top students, she wrote a letter for her father to read at Tuesday morning's school board meeting.

"For a county guided on a principal of excellence, why would the school board choose to discourage performance by eliminating students goals of becoming valedictorian and salutatorian," Rick Penberthy read.

He agrees with his daughter.

The long-time teacher can't understand why Pasco wants to nix valedictorians.

"You have winners and losers. People work hard to achieve academic goals. They should be rewarded for it," he said.

Penberthy was the only person to speak against the change, before the board approved the first reading of the new plan.

Superintendent Kurt Browning says it's time for a change.

And with so many students on different academic schedules because of Florida virtual and dual enrollment, calculating a valedictorian just doesn't work anymore.

He also says too many students are too focused on it.

"And I've used the word cut throat because I've sat down with parents, every April, May, leading up to graduation and there was one situation this past year where I thought I was in a deposition," said Browning.

"I know there are gonna be people complaining that their child didn't make it, but people complain about everything in life," said Penberthy.

The school board will vote on the new plan August 15th, but the public will have a chance again to speak at that meeting before the vote.

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