By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
It’s not very often the public attends the meetings of the Tucker County Board of Education, but when it was announced that some seniors graduating in December of 2019, rather than May of 2020, were not permitted to join their classmates on their senior trip, the attendance grew. It has become more popular for students to graduate early from Tucker County High School for various reasons, though it caused concern for liabilities when it came to school functions once they technically graduated. Quickly, it became evident a policy needed to be in place that clearly explains the stipulations that the student will be subject to upon graduating prior to the spring of their senior year.
After many hours of work on this policy, Tucker County Schools Superintendent Alicia Lambert presented it to the board members. After reviews were done and revisions made, a policy was approved by the board and was subjected to three readings at public board meetings to allow for input. After receiving none across the three meetings, the policy went to vote with unanimous agreement to adopt this policy.
Lambert explained, “Graduating from high school early provides students with more options.” “They can take advantage of multiple post secondary and career options sooner,” she stated. “With that being said, this was not something we take lightly and wanted to make it an achievement that students needed to work hard to obtain.” Lambert continued, “Many districts do not allow early graduation at all, but we felt that if students worked hard enough to achieve it, they should be rewarded with the opportunity.”
The new policy acknowledges that, for different reasons, some wish to graduate earlier rather than with their designated class. In order for juniors wishing to graduate early, an application must be made in accordance with school guidelines and will be pending the approval of the principal if deemed all guidelines are met. In order to be considered for early graduation, the student must receive a letter of acceptance from an accredited college or university which indicates early enrollment, or the student must have a signed offer of employment.
In addition, the student must have maintained a grade point average of 3.75 at the time the request was made and until the time of “graduation,” must submit a written letter of intent to the guidance office and principal by January 31 of their sophomore year, and participate in a formal interview with school officials and parents to establish a written agreement. That agreement will include an understanding that the student will continue to be enrolled in the appropriate junior homeroom and attend functions designated for juniors, except that students will be allowed to participate in baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies, and the student will not re-enroll in high school during what would be their normal senior year after having completed all requirements for graduation. The agreement will further include that the student will not be considered as valedictorian or salutatorian since the students GPA will not be included in the normal ranking of seniors. Only students who complete all eight semesters of high school are eligible for the designation of valedictorian, salutatorian, or top 10 honors. If the student is under disciplinary action or has less than a 95% overall attendance rate, they will not be considered for early graduation.
Students wishing to graduate early during their senior year must abide by the same guidelines, however the written letter of intent must be submitted to the guidance office and principal by January 31 of their junior year. During the formal interview process, it will be made known and agreed upon that the student will not be permitted to attend trips or functions with the school once they have been deemed a graduate except that of baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. Any functions they attend outside of those exceptions, they will be considered a guest and not a student.
As with the junior year early graduates, the student will also be ineligible for valedictorian, salutatorian, or top 10 honors, must not be under current disciplinary action, and must have an overall attendance rate of over 95%.
For students or parents thereof with questions regarding potential early graduation, contact the Tucker County Board of Education at 304-478-2771.