Loudoun County Class of 2025 – No Longer Ranked Numerically


A photo of the Excellence in Education Banquet taken by Geri Fiore.

The Loudoun County School Board members voted to abandon the numerical ranking system, along with  naming a class valedictorian,  to transition to the Latin ranking system starting with the class of 2025. Under the new system, the top five percent of students will graduate Summa cum Laude (with most praise), the top ten percent, Magna cum Laude (with great praise), and the top twenty percent, Cum Laude (with praise). 

In October of 2020, the LCPS school board voted eight to one on Amendment 5030, which was proposed by Harris Mahedavi. This explains the new Latin ranking system. It was originally proposed for the class of 2022, but a six to three vote withheld the amendment until the class of 2025 entered high school. 

Vice Chairwoman Atoosa Reaser told Washington Top News reporter Neal Augenstein, “It makes better sense to me to allow that change to come in with next year’s freshmen class. They can just come into high school all on the same page.” 


Top students at Woodgrove had many different opinions on the class ranking shift. 


“I think kids worry a little too much about their class rank, when it is just high school,” highly ranked junior Michelle Chatfield said. “It is important to want to be up there for college, but I don’t think it is necessarily important to have individual rankings.” 


Two freshmen at Woodgrove, Aidan Soyka and Adelaide Fredericks were in agreement with the change due to the Latin system having less competition and being less stressful. 


Other students at Woodgrove were against the change, claiming that the numerical system was better. 


“I am not a huge fan of the change because I think that class ranking creates competition among students and pushes them to try harder in school,” freshman William Den Herder said. “I’m glad that the Board intends to keep some sort of rankings in the Latin system, just so we don’t throw all rankings out the window.”


Others feel that the change will not necessarily eliminate the stress of academic competition amongst students.


“The Latin system is probably more stressful for students at the high school age because when you see a number, it’s more concrete and it makes more sense to you,” junior Celia Hart said. “You know how you’re doing compared to your peers because you can see the number, as opposed to the Latin system, where it’s just words. Some kids don’t know what those words even  mean.”


Teachers and administrators at Woodgrove had differing views, similar to the students. 


Woodgrove math teacher Seneca Sowers was the salutatorian of her high school class. She said, “I do agree with some of the reasoning behind the decision; however, I feel like class ranking is very motivating for a lot of students.”


Mrs. Sowers added, “ I feel like some colleges look at class ranking because GPA and grading scales are different across the country for different school systems. It’s not going to change the expectation of content knowledge, grading, and college acceptance, so I don’t think it’s going to eliminate a lot of the other stressors that students are dealing with.” 


On the other side, Mrs. Beth Harar, English teacher, was for the change. 


“I think it’s good to have that competitive drive as a student, but I think the way Loudoun has the class ranking system pushes kids a bit too hard,” Harar said. 

Some administrators were also in agreement with the upcoming change. Vice Principal Timothy Panagos feels that the change lets kids focus more on the experience. 


“ It’s a somewhat unhealthy competition for a grade, and a grade is a number,” Panagos said. “That’s really not all there is to school. There is more to it than just the number, and kids become competitive and obsessed with this number.”


Woodgrove Principal Dr. William Shipp also supports the change.  He explained that under the current system, many students chose classes solely because of  “the bump” they could give them. (LCPS provides a grade bump for many honors, AP, and Dual Enrollment courses.)


“My advice for any student is to continue to do the best you can. I think that there are still accolades to be garnered. There will still be recognition,” Dr. Shipp said.


One thing that most  were in agreement with is that the new policy had not been widely advertised.  In fact, most students and teachers interviewed did not know that the decision was final.

 “It was sneaky,” Harar said. “I had no idea. I think we were so consumed with Covid and distance learning and hybrid. It was easy to just get this done amidst all of those things. I don’t ever remember being asked.”