District wants dignity back into graduation

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2001

Graduation from Natchez High School should be a different experience in 2002 for students and family.

Not only is the Natchez-Adams School District doing away with recognition of only the top 30 graduates, it also wants a more dignified ceremony.

&uot;What we’re trying to do is bring back a higher level of dignity to the ceremony,&uot; said Brenda Williams, former principal of Natchez High School who now holds an administrative position.

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In recent years, some students have waved or yelled from the stage or not walked to the stage or across the stage in a dignified manner, Williams said.

&uot;The vast majority of the seniors present themselves with dignity, respect and pride but it doesn’t take but just a few to give a sour note to the ceremony,&uot; Williams said.

And because of complaints from spectators, school officials will no longer allow balloons in the stadium because they block the view of people behind them, Williams said.

Natchez High School Principal Bobby Brown said students needed to understand that graduation is not a relaxed occasion.

&uot;I feel that graduation is a time that we’re showing that we’ve completed our high school requirements and it’s a dignified ceremony,&uot; Brown said.

All seniors are to receive a letter of the changes and could face repercussions if they do not comply with the rules.

&uot;We put in the letter that if they have any behavior outside these guidelines … they will not be given their diploma,&uot; Brown said.

They will have to go before the Natchez-Adams School Board at a later date to receive it, Brown said.

Natchez High School is also getting rid of its longstanding tradition of only recognizing the top 30 graduates.

Instead, it is going to give recognition to all its honor graduates.

&uot;Through the years we have discovered that so many children have been denied the academic recognition that they deserved,&uot; William said.

In some years, students have made the honor role every year but did not have a GPA high enough to be in the top 30, Williams said.

And sometimes the difference between 30 and 31 is one thousandth of a point.

&uot;That hurts to see a child not receive recognition when he or she was so close,&uot; Williams said.

In the future, all students with at least a 3.0 GPA will be recognized as an honor student and anyone with at least a 4.0 GPA will be recognized as an honor students with distinction, Brown said.

&uot;We’ll show that we’re proud of all our honor students in graduation,&uot; Brown said.

The school district has also decided to abolish another tradition – rounding all grades up to the next number.

In previous years, if a student earned a 92.1 in a class the teacher would round the grade to a 93 which is an &uot;A.&uot;

After looking into the matter, Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis and school officials decided teachers will only round up grades of .5 or higher.

&uot;His position … was no where in the mathematical world do you round up until you have a point five or higher,&uot; Williams said.

Calculating grades this way gives a fairer assessment of each student’s grades, Williams said.