DATE: February 22, 2018
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Beginning This Year, High School Diplomas in Albemarle County Will Take on a Higher Level of Meaning

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – All three comprehensive high schools in Albemarle County recently earned the letter grade “A” for their college preparatory programs in the 2018 Niche rankings of the best high schools in the nation. Now, graduates of these schools and the school division’s charter high school, Murray, will have the opportunity to earn a distinction normally associated with colleges and universities.

Beginning with this year’s graduating class, students can earn such designations as cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude affixed to their diplomas.

These designations will be based upon a student’s unweighted grade point average throughout their four years in high school. Students earning a grade point average from 3.0 to 3.4 will receive the designation of cum laude; those earning between a 3.5 and 3.7 will graduate magna cum laude; and seniors with a 3.8 grade point average or higher will be summa cum laude graduates.

Also in the Niche rankings, Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools received “A” scores for academics, and Monticello received a B-plus. Faculty at all three high schools received “A” scores.

“We have a strong foundation in place for student achievement at all of our high schools, and that certainly is reflected in the consistently high scores our students earn each year on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests,” said Jay Thomas, the Director of Secondary Education. “Students are extremely dedicated, work very hard their entire high school career, and balance many interests, not only in class, but on the athletic field, in community service, and through part-time jobs. To manage these schedules and maintain outstanding grades is an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated,” he added.

The best part of the new program, Thomas says, is that it does not compete students against their peers, but rather recognizes individual excellence.

He noted that college and career readiness were among the top priorities identified in the school division’s budget survey this year, reflecting its importance in the community. Several programs proposed for next year’s budget will address those priorities as the division prepares for its High School 2022 program. The program will provide students with opportunities to collaborate with community and business leaders on projects that will enhance such contemporary skills as creativity, critical thinking, communication, and the ability to work in teams.

“These new diploma designations not only will recognize high levels of achievement by our students, but provide a good foundation for the next step our graduates will take toward lifelong success,” Thomas said.

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