Cape increases graduation requirements

Committee formed to examine dress code
Starting with the class of 2017, Cape Henlopen High School students will have to earn 26 credits to graduate. SOURCE FILE
December 28, 2012

Rising freshmen at Cape will need two more credits to graduate following a school board decision Dec. 13.

In an unanimous vote, graduation requirements will increase from 24 to 26 credits with the school board's latest decision. The class of 2017 – current eighth-graders who will be freshmen in fall 2013 – will be the first class affected by the increase. The classes of 2015 and 2016 must carry 24 credits, based on a state mandated foreign language requirement that went into effect in 2011. This year's senior class is the last to carry only 22 credits to graduate.

"We have a graduation requirement program that allows our students to graduate as juniors, and that's not acceptable to me," said Cape Superintendent Robert Fulton during his endorsement of the increase.

Michael Kelley, director of curriculum and instruction, recommended the increase. He said the majority of Cape students graduate with 28 or more credits. The new requirements would include an extra social studies and science credit. Adding those credits help satisfy requirements many colleges look for on college applications, he said.

A strong majority of school board members supported the increase from the beginning.

"I think this is a no-brainer. We need to go with the 26 credits," said school board member Noble Prettyman.

Board President Andy Lewis agreed and said the increase reflects course loads already carried by many students.

"We have a high number of students graduating with a higher number of credits already," he said.

Vice President Spencer Brittingham was the lone hold-out questioning whether the science and social studies requirements might be too much for some students.

"I'm afraid we're going to hurt the students who are already left behind," he said.

Brittingham, however, was swayed to vote in favor of the increase following a sound endorsement by former Cape Superintendent James Wilson.

"He was my superintendent, and if he says it's a good idea, then I have to listen to him," Brittingham said before casting his yea vote.

In other business, the board requested Fulton create a committee to research and consider implementing a standardized dress code for district students.

"This is a very controversial subject. We need to take our time on this," said board member Roni Posner. "We need to make sure we look at this carefully and get input from the entire community."