CLEARFIELD – Clearfield Area High School’s students have long been recognized with varsity letters for their participation and successes in athletics. Now, Principal Tim Janocko and Teacher Justin Hazelton are looking to institute academic letters to recognize the successes of CAHS students in the classroom.
“We would like to establish academic letters,” said Janocko. “We have letters for our athletes and want something similar for academics.”
At Monday night’s school board meeting, Janocko said if approved, students would receive their academic letters after meeting grade requirements for the first time. Then, students would receive chevron bars each subsequent year they meet the grade requirements.
Every student who enters the ninth grade would be eligible to receive a letter. Students would be required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average for three of the four quarters during an academic year, or 75 percent of the time, said Hazelton. Students would receive their letters and chevron bars annually during the CAHS awards assembly.
“We want to recognize academics at the high school,” he said. “We want to recognize the students who maintain academic success in the classroom.”
According to Hazelton, if approved, the academic letter would be designed similar to the one that appears on the CAHS’s letterman’s jacket. The only difference, he said, would be that this letter would have academic embroidered on it.
He said academic letters serve as an “important chance” to motivate all CAHS students. The faculty and administrators at the CAHS, he said, currently recognize their top students through the National Honor Society and will continue to recognize these students.
“But there are students who are working hard and having success in the classroom,” said Hazelton. “If we motivate them with a letter, they’ll leave with an even greater sense of accomplishment.”
Not only that, but he also believes the academic letters would create a “symbol of excellence” within the Clearfield community.
“Clearfield has a long-standing tradition of excellence, and we would like to add to it. We would like to build upon it. We would like to become more a part of it with the academic letters,” said Hazelton. “It reflects the hard work of the students. Hard work pays off, and the students should be awarded for that.”
For him, student successes are the direct result of a collaborative effort of the school board, administrators, teachers, parents, youth pastors and coaches. He said anytime a student would receive a letter everyone who supported that student would also receive the award.
Additionally, Hazelton noted it would be a great benefit for students to indicate on college and scholarship applications that they had received academic letter(s). “We have an opportunity to make that possible,” he said.
Board member Tim Morgan asked Janocko about how the CAHS planned to handle circumstances in which a student meets the grade requirements for three quarters but then gets kicked out of school sometime in the fourth quarter. Morgan asked if there would be any penalties, such as the academic letter not being awarded or even taken away from a student.
When asked Janocko told Morgan football players earn letters based upon the number of quarters they play during the season. Morgan then asked about whether or not a player who letters still receives his letter even if he gets kicked off the team. Janocko said a player would not receive a letter if he wasn’t a member of the team at the end of the year.
Morgan then asked if a student would still receive his/her letter even if they became counterproductive after earning it. Janocko said if a student wasn’t any longer enrolled at the high school, he/she wouldn’t be awarded their letter.
Board member Rick Schickling asked Janocko about how he planned to address students who earn the academic letters in the first three quarters but who then may choose to “academically not participate” in the fourth quarter. Janocko said they could adapt the academic letter program to the board’s liking. At that point, board President Mary Anne Jackson said perhaps they could mandate that the fourth quarter be one of the three quarters that students must meet grade requirements in, which Janocko said was a good idea.
Schickling said it was a fantastic idea to award academic letters to the students. However, he didn’t want students to slack off in the fourth quarter. Board member Jennifer Wallace asked if students who received the academic letters would receive a jacket like the athletes. Janocko said they hadn’t considered it. Wallace said they could offer jackets for students to purchase, which Janocko said could be given consideration.
Janocko told board members if they had questions or ideas they could get in touch with either him or Hazelton. He told the board he hoped to get the academic letters established quickly, so that this year’s ninth grade students would be eligible. Janocko said this year’s seniors would also be eligible to receive a letter.