New Standards at Smithfield High School

By Sophia DeJesus

Recently, there’s been a change in the ranking and academic honors system at Smithfield High School. On October 29, 2019, principal Daniel Kelley announced there is an adjustment to the way honors and high honors are calculated for students at Smithfield High. Announced at the end of the first quarter, many students –especially juniors and seniors– were panicked about the new standards and how it would affect their ranks within the school.

For the students at the high school to achieve honors, they must achieve a quarterly GPA (grade point average) of a 92 or better, and have no grade lower than 87. As for high honors achievement, students must achieve a quarterly GPA of 95 or better, and have no grade lower than 90.

Some might argue that the new standards are too much for the teens, however, Assistant Principal, Tammy Koller, says, “we want you to do the best you possibly can, and sometimes a motivating factor for students is honor roll. If students want to make honor roll, they will obtain it. I think every student is motivated to be successful, though I think sometimes, some want something more than others.”

From the administration’s point of view, the new standards are a positive change, and they are based upon the school wanting to make the honors system more in line with the academic excellence students attain.

But do the student’s view it that way too?

Maegan Grant, a junior at SHS, believes that the new standards are unfair to the students who are taking multiple honors or AP classes. She says, “the entire change is negative for these students who not only work their butts off for school, but have jobs, play sports, have family events, friends, etcetera. I think the new standards are too hard to achieve for students who are taking upper level classes.”

Bailey McGarry, also a junior at SHS, disagrees with the changes as well. During a conversation, she mentioned that students are already stressed out about their rank –which will be eliminated for class of 2023 and after– as well as grades. The new standards just add to the stress. Bailey stated, “the criteria is the same as the criteria at the middle school, but the expectations and workload are much higher and more involved at the high school level. I think this just adds another thing to stress about accomplishing for SHS kids.”

The changes for honors designation are to take place during the second quarter of this school year, and there are students who are not happy about it. Achieving honors and high honors from this point on may be more difficult, however, Ms. Koller believes, “we need to look at things as a healthy challenge,” and honors is a designation that does not define students.

When asked for advice she would give to students who are aiming for honors and high honors achievement, she said, “to achieve success, you have to do your part, and you have to organize your time. Plus, you [must] have a social life, everybody deserves that!”

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Sophia DeJesus is a 16 year old student at Smithfield High School. She is a first degree black belt at Mastery Martial Arts, and has been training for almost eight years. Not only is she a student there, but she is also a junior instructor. She works with students of all age groups and loves to watch them learn and grow. When she’s not at karate, she enjoys watching Netflix, and reading her favorite books. Some authors Sophia enjoys include, J.K. Rowling and Jenny Han. Along with reading, she also loves drawing and painting. This school year, Sophia even decided to challenge herself and take an AP art class.

At a young age she discovered a love for writing, and over the years she’s continued to work on her skills. In her freshman year of high school, she took a journalism class and decided to take writing more seriously. During the summer of her sophomore year, she got the opportunity to attend a weeklong journalism camp. Over the week, she worked alongside students from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Staying at Regis College in Weston, MA, and working in the computer lab at Simmons College in Boston, she learned new writing techniques, and also got to practice her digital art skills. Sophia and 17 other students worked together with NEHSJC alumni, editors from the Boston Globe, and other esteemed journalists to create a newspaper called The Catalyst. There, she was able to fine tune her interviewing skills and explore journalism even more.

Sophia often embraces challenges and works tremendously hard in everything she does. She believes that in order to be successful and happy, you must first have a good work ethic and always try your “level 10 best.” In her opinion, she owes this type of mindset to her mother. Her mom has always been supportive of her academics and encourages her to try new things. Ready for a new opportunity, Sophia is thrilled to be writing for The Smithfield Times. She can’t wait to bring light to the events happening at Smithfield High School and hopes to entertain her readers.