BAY COUNTY - Thursday is graduation day for hundreds of Bay District High School students. It's also the first year without a long-time tradition: a valedictorian.
Four years ago Bay District School board members changed the standards for scholastic achievement. This year's seniors were just freshmen then.
Suzanne Farrar with Bay District Schools says, "4.0 and higher is "With Excellence." If it is with a 3.5 to 3.9 GPA, that's "With Honors" and a 3.0 to a 3.49 is a "Distinction."
Now that the big day is approaching students are speaking out.
"I'm still allowed to put it on college applications that I am number one so that main benefit is still there. There are some of the top 10's that are a bit slighted at it, I think," said George Hamm, Bay High School senior.
"It's been one of my goals since before I can even remember, back in kindergarten and elementary school to be valedictorian, salutatorian and now I just feel like opportunity is just getting ripped from me and i don't even have a chance to do it anymore," said Allie Quinuyog, Bay High School sophomore.
But school officials say not all is lost. "We still allow for that top group, the Excellence Group, the highest of GPA to pick their senior speaker," Billy May, Bay High School Principal.
Educators say less pressure on grades allows students more time for the extracurricular activities. May said, "They might be a little more free to be in the band now and experience that rather than just sticking to those weighted grade point classes. Now they can do the fun stuff they want to do."
As far a college admissions, officials say universities are focusing more on transcripts and your test scores for SAT and ACT scores these days, than where you ranked academically in your graduating class.