Eighty-one scholars from West Valley High School received that traditional symbol of excellence this week - a school letter. It’s a first for the school.
East Valley High School also presented academic letters this week, the second year it has done so. Sixty-eight EV students were honored.
“It’s kind of a time to show them off to everyone,” said Kerry Hawley, East Valley counselor.
At West Valley, the project has been four years in the making.
“I think we started in when our daughter was a freshman and now she’s a freshman in college,” said West Valley parent Tom Brattebo, a steadfast supporter of the project. His son Ben Brattebo, a junior, got his academic letter this week.
Interest at West Valley first came from a group of parents. Eventually, everyone from student leaders to the school board weighed in on the plan.
Freeman High School has awarded academic letters for four years. Central Valley and University high schools are due to start a similar program later this year.
At West Valley, freshmen and sophomores must have a 3.8 grade point average. Juniors and seniors must have maintained a cumulative gpa of 3.5 or better.
That reflects the way athletic letters are awarded, Tom Brattebo said, with true excellence required for the younger athletes and continued levels of strong performance rewarded among the older ones.
East Valley requires a 3.8 gpa either for two consecutive semesters or any three semesters.
“We think it’s important that students and families feel academics are as important as extracurricular activities,” Hawley said.
Schools must make other decisions about their academic letters. Should they be the same as the athletic letters? And should the criteria go beyond grades?
At East Valley and West Valley, the letters are identical. Only grades are taken into account.
At Freeman High School, community service is necessary, too, and the academic letters are in script, contrasting with the block-style athletic letters.
“So you can have a kid with one on each side of their jacket,” said Harry Amend, Freeman superintendent.
School officials agreed there’s plenty of overlap between students who earn athletic and academic letters.
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