It's impossible to know how many valedictorians the Class of 2013 will produce-- they won't even begin high school until August -- but it's a good bet that there will be fewer of them than in the class of 2009.


At their May 18 meeting, the Hesperia Unified School District school board voted to toughen up the standards that produced 37 valedictorians in this year's Hesperia and Sultana High School graduating classes. (That number has risen over the years: There were 18 valedictorians in the Class of 2007 and 25 in 2008.)


Currently, the HUSD awards valedictorian status to any student who earns 188 points over the course of 44 semester-long grading periods in high school. Points are awarded based on grades, with regular classes earning a student 4 points for an A, down through 1 point for a D. Honors and Advanced Placement classes award 5 points for an A, down to 2 points for a D.


Starting with the Class of 2013, valedictorians will have to earn 194 points, instead of 188. Under that system, the Class of 2009 would have had 16 valedictorians instead of 37.


The board unanimously approved the change, which had been recommended by the district's Curriculum Alignment and Review committee.


"My personal thing, there's supposed to be a [single] valedictorian and a salutatorian," said board member Chris Bentley. In most of the country, schools award the valedictorian title to the highest-achieving student, and the runner-up is named the salutatorian. "This is a step in the right direction, I guess."


"I think what we're trying to do is cut it down," said board member Robert Kirk. "I think having so many cuts down on the significance of it."


"In our defense, we are the largest school district [in the Victor Valley] and we're trying to provide opportunities for those who go above and beyond" academically, said Bentley.


The next meeting of the HUSD school board will be held on June 8, 2009, at 6 p.m. in the HUSD Educational Support Center Annex, 15576 Main Street.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.