BAR HARBOR — Twin sisters Isabel and Olivia Erickson are co-valedictorians of this year’s graduating class at Mount Desert Island High School.
The commencement ceremony will be Sunday, June 15, at 2 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
The Erickson sisters are graduating with identical 3.987 grade point averages (GPA).
“I think they each got one A-minus during their entire time here,” Principal Matt Haney said.
Although Isabel and Olivia are valedictorians, signifying that their GPAs are the highest in their class, they will not have speaking roles in the commencement ceremony. Instead, the student speakers will be Joseph “Gus” DenDanto, who was chosen by the faculty and staff, and Jane Pappas, who was selected by a vote of the senior class.
The unusual separation of commencement roles is the result of this being a transition year for honor parts at MDI High.
Last spring, the school board voted to eliminate, as of this year, the traditional honor parts of valedictorian and salutatorian, which have always been awarded to the students with the highest and second highest GPAs. The school board revisited the issue this past fall and decided to postpone elimination of the honor parts until 2015. But the board voted to go ahead and give the speaking roles to students chosen by their classmates, and the faculty and staff.
The school board’s decision to eliminate the traditional commencement honor parts starting next year followed the recommendation of a study group.
“The reason was that when you have people starting to compare one student against another, you can get some unfortunate side effects,” Haney explained. “I’m a big fan of competition, but not necessarily competition over who can get better grades.”