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Gainesville High considers fewer course requirements
Move could give students more class options
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Gainesville High School is considering shrinking required course credits from 28 to 24.

The move, which was introduced to Gainesville City Schools at a work session Monday night, could give students more opportunity to tailor their classes to their post-graduate goals.

Todd Henry, the school system's academic coordinator, said the reduction would give students a chance to tackle requirements for their college or profession of choice.

"Flexibility is exactly what we're looking for," Henry said.

The proposal introduced to the school board would still keep the same required course credits for English, math, science and social studies. The changes would come in the reduction of electives from eight to four.

Henry said in lieu of traditional courses, students nearing graduation could be attending approved alternative programs aimed at preparing the students for their plans after graduation.

School board member Sammy Smith suggested that the school sell the idea to students as a chance to "define yourself and not let something else define you."

While Monday's meeting drew a large crowd from the community, controversy about Gainesville High School's 2012 valedictorian selection was not directly addressed at the meeting.

Gainesville senior Cody Stephens, who told The Times and other media outlets that he had been named co-valedictorian last week, was honored as Star student and for his participation with the school's state-championship-winning academic bowl team at Monday's meeting.

Cody's mother, Valerie Stephens, said last week that her son had the highest GPA at the school, so he should have been named the sole valedictorian.

However, on Monday, Stephens declined to comment further on the controversy.

A rally to support Cody is being organized by community members on Sunday at Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville.

The school system offered a statement to reporters at the work session about the controversy that read, "Gainesville High School is following the established written procedure in place for valedictorian selection. As a first step, Gainesville High School invited the parents and student in consideration for the honor to participate in a conference to review the procedures. This process has not been completed."

The statement said parents will again be invited to another conference with school officials.

Gainesville Superintendent Merriane Dyer said valedictorian selection is made at the school level and does not fall under the authority of the school board.