Chasing The Diploma

Bailey Vrem, Reporter

  Due to unforeseen circumstances, the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 have a year that looks slightly different from the past. There can be lots of confusion about graduation requirements, what diploma to aim for, and what classes to take to earn that diploma. The District has laid out a plan that accommodates students graduating amidst a pandemic.

  All seniors graduating in 2021 must complete 10 hours of community service, instead of the 20-hour typical requirement. Juniors will be required to complete 15 hours, and any classes after 2022 will be required to meet the standard need of 20 hours.

  According to counselor Kelsey Rosten, the standard SAT, and PSAT tests are scheduled for April. “SAT scores for college admissions are not required this year,” said Rosten, “most colleges are going test-optional in their admission process.” 

  Colleges are still offering virtual tours and on-campus tours; however, Rosten mentions that they cannot take students on college visits at this time. “There are also several opportunities to meet with college reps through our scheduled college rep visits and virtual college fairs.” AIMS and Front Range community college are still offering concurrent enrollment classes, according to Rosten.

  The Colorado Department of Education has waived meeting the competencies in English and Math for the class of 2021. Any juniors wishing to graduate early will still be required to complete these competencies. Concluding those competencies can be achieved through SAT or ACT scores, AP scores, earning a C in a college class, or completing a Capstone. 

  The District states, “Capstone is a culminating exhibition of a student’s experience while in Thompson School District that demonstrates academic and intellectual learning in English language arts and, or Mathematics.” The standards do not apply to seniors of 2021. 

  There are three diplomas that students can choose from. There is a general diploma, a district diploma, or a district diploma with distinction. Each certificate has different credit requirements.

  The Thompson School District General Diploma is a diploma that has been awarded to students that earn 20 credits and complete all the required coursework. According to the district, students will not be allowed to choose this option earlier than Sept. 1 before starting their senior year and no later than Feb. 1. The general diploma is typical for students who enter directly into the workforce.

  The TSD Diploma is for college-bound students and is awarded to students who shoot for 24 credits. The district requires students to complete two world language credits and seven career pathway elective credits. The highest diploma offered is the TSD Diploma with distinction, which requires students to earn 28 credits. 

  Three distinction titles go with the TSD Diploma. It only requires a GPA of 3.5 to earn the diploma. Rosten said, “For Cum Laude it’s 3.7, for Magna Cum Laude it’s 3.85, and for Summa Cum Laude it’s 4.0.”

  Students can also earn the Career Pathways Achievement Award. This award goes to students who complete a Community College career pathway.

 It’s never too early to start planning for what diploma students want to earn. Counselors start prepping juniors for the senior year by preparing them for taking the PSAT and even thinking ahead to classes they might take in the upcoming years. Many things have changed, but the determination of our counselors to help us succeed remains steadfast.