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Springfield student challenging school district’s valedictorian policy

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    Springfield, Massachusetts, June 6th (Ryan Trowbridge, Briceyda Landaverde) — SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — A few weeks ago, Roberta Hannah’s story made headlines for getting into all eight Ivy League schools.

Now, Hannah has a different story to share. She said because she was not in the Springfield district for the full four years, she is not eligible to stand as her class’ Valedictorian.

“Having a voice is the only thing that is going to push you forward,” Hannah said.

One local Springfield graduating senior is using her voice to demand change.

Western Mass News first introduced you to Roberta Hannah’s story, a graduating senior at Springfield High School of Science and Technology, who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.

Now, she is bringing awareness to the Springfield district’s valedictorian and salutatorian policy.

Hannah said while she has the highest grade point average, she is not eligible to be titled Valedictorian because she was not in the district for the full four years.

“I want the school to understand, not being from Springfield or me not being in Springfield for four years, that shouldn’t determine anything,” Hannah explained.

Hannah, who said she has dreamed of being Valedictorian since she was a young girl, wrote a letter to the school addressing her concerns.

As a resolution, she said the Springfield school district has offered her a Class Ambassador title instead, but she said taking that title simply did not feel right to her.

“I always thought I was going to be up there as Valedictorian, as the person representing my class, but to make a speech under another title, it just didn’t feel right to myself,” Hannah noted.

Springfield Public Schools Supt. Daniel Warwick told Western Mass News in a statement:

“The four-year eligibility requirement grew out of mounting concern expressed by seniors and high school administrators that, with increasing frequency, students transferring into SPS high schools from other school districts were displacing students who had been trending towards Valedictorian for their entire high school career.”

Hannah said one of the main takeaways is she wants this policy to change, not only for herself, but for future students.

In response, the school is putting together a team to review the Valedictorian policy in place.

In addition, Warwick said:

“I deeply regret the sense of disappointment faced by committed, hardworking students on either side of the scenario and I’ve committed to once again comprising a team to review the overall practice of valedictorian and salutatorian for Springfield Public Schools, including a specific look at the four-year eligibility guideline.”

Hannah said, “I still don’t know if this is going to change. They could put a team together and come to the conclusion that this what they want to stay in place.”

As of now, Hannah said she does not plan to attend graduation.

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catherine Caputo

Article Topic Follows: Regional News

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