District-Wide Graduation Changes: Is Unity That Important?


In January of this year, seniors began hearing that many of the graduation traditions were changing, including the gowns, cords and stoles they were promised – without any notice. Whether or not the changes are for a good reason, Spring Valley High School admin needs to honor the promises they made to the existing senior class and better communication plans for future classes in advance.

Discussions by the senior committee, which included counselors, teachers, students, and the principal, have resulted in a refurbishing of gowns. This was due to the fact that the school wanted to bring unity amongst students. As well, CCSD (Clark County School District) has created a new cap GPA [grade point average] implemented for the cohort of 2024 and beyond. Although this is a reasonable choice in the name of bringing equality amongst other students, it does discourage many students from attempting to take the IB program or even take challenging classes like AP, dual credit, or even honors classes. 

For years, students had different color gowns representing what type of diploma they earned. Gowns designated a standard, advanced honors or IB diploma. Additionally, each CTE [career technical education] class, athletic program, honors club, service club, honors academic, elective & performing arts classes had their own special cord representing each student uniquely for their high school experience. However, with these changes many students feel that they have worked hard for too long just not to get recognized like they should, even if they get recognized through a stole, cords, or tassels. 

With the new changes, all students will wear the same color gown and will only receive recognition through stoles for most of the upper level programs or diploma types. However, cords will still be included for those that have met the requirements of their clubs, elective classes, or diploma/program types. College and Career Ready, Advanced Honors, Advanced, AVID, and CTE will be getting cords, as well as the performing arts department, athletics, and clubs and organizations. IB will be getting a gold stole with the IB logo and a medallion, as well IB, CTE, and AVID will have available tassels for special order. 

Although there are many school changes, the district is calling for some of these changes as well. In policy 5127, the Advanced Honors Diploma will no longer be offered to students after cohort 2025. IB counselor Mrs. Gebbia had stated that the reason behind this is because only Nevada colleges recognized this diploma, not out of state colleges. The diploma is not on a student’s transcript, so after the cohort the only diplomas one can receive is CCR (college career ready) and the standard diploma. Another district change is cap GPA (grade point average), which is set at 4.95 for cohort 2024 and moving forward, causing many students who take IB, AP, dual-credit, and honors classes to feel upset and unmotivated.

This decision leaves both the graduating classes and future classes unprepared for these changes. Admin should’ve made students aware of these changes in policies in advance because now students are being aware of the fact that their diploma types (Advanced Honors) are not being honored in out of state schools. Along with the fact that during graduation they are not being properly distinguished for taking a rigorous path during high school. This is again similar to the fact that the GPA is being capped which doesn’t let students rise to their full potential in academics. It hugely lacks representation for students and those in their chosen programs. District and administration are responsible for this current situation that is creating a crisis amongst academically challenged students. If this information was properly communicated to students during the COVID-19 pandemic or at the very least before the 2022-2023 school year, it would’ve prepared students for the changes that are coming up in the future. 

For counselors, this caused a lot of confusion for which cord each student gets. There was no actual criteria to these cords or stoles, many students ended up with plenty of cords. Although there is a lot of confusion to counselors about cords and stoles, there should be a written criteria for students to follow each cord. For example, a student should be required to attend at least five of the meetings throughout each school year, all of which should be documented, in order to receive the cord for that club. For CTE students, they should have completed the course and taken the end of the program exam.  

Consequently, many students have argued that this shouldn’t be a decision that the district or administration makes, but rather a decision the students should make amongst themselves, since it is their future and their accomplishments that are or would be represented in a diverse matter. For example, the GPA cap may represent unity, but it doesn’t create a sense of diversity amongst the students. In many cases during graduation it may present itself as a well accomplished student with high grades, high GPA, who has attended many clubs, and is an overall well-rounded student sitting next to a student that has only met the bare minimum requirements for graduation, in the same gown. These are the little things that students have looked at with these changes in policy which makes students feel as though what they are doing isn’t enough if they are to be represented equally. 

Students deserve a moment of acknowledgement for the hard work that they have achieved in high school, and graduation is that perfect moment. If students are not being acknowledged properly with these changes in policies could that potentially affect their acceptance rate into a college or university that they desire to attend? Many higher level colleges and universities look at things such as your GPA and with that evident cap, it doesn’t give students an equal opportunity to get accepted into a college that for example, a student from another state may without having an administered GPA cap. School is meant for that competition to encourage students to do better, not to discourage students from taking harder courses and let them lack equality when it comes to leading on a higher level of education, like college or university.