Why Marshall Co. Schools graduations won’t have a valedictorian and salutatorian this year

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- This is the first year in the Marshall County Schools system that the graduating class won't have a valedictorian and salutatorian.

It has been in the works since 2013, when the Marshall County Board of Education approved revisions to the Senior Recognitions.

"The Senior Recognition changes changed it to the Top Ten Percent rather than Top Ten, and also eliminated a valedictorian and salutatorian for the graduating class," explained Marshall County Schools Superintendent Cindy Wigley.

Because the changes went into effect in the 2013 - 2014 school year, this year's graduating class is the first class affected.

"Senior Recognitions are based off of what students have done between 9th and 12th grade," Wigley explained.

Wigley, who took office in 2015, adds the old categories were replaced with Top Percent, Academic Elite, Honor Graduate, Career Technical Awards and Fine Arts Awards.

Students who will give speeches at graduation this year have to first perform before a panel of judges and meet the requirements of the top ten percent of their class. Speeches vary between schools.

The district notified parents and students of the change when it went into effect. It's also in the student handbook.

Wigley says the administration four years ago cited several reasons for the change, including other school systems in the State that have the same practice.

"One of those reasons had to do with the weighted courses, like AP courses or dual enrollment, and some students didn't have the opportunity to take those at the time," Wigley said.

Since 2013, availability for AP classes and funding for dual enrollment increased. So, the Senior Recognitions policy could be revisited this year. Any changes made this year would go into effect in four years, with the upcoming class of freshmen.