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How Students Earn Honors and Distinction

By Bailey Metcalf

Graduating with Honors and Distinction is a goal for many students in Hamblen County. For some, they have never heard of Honors and Distinction and what it can do to improve a students’ life. Earning Honors and Distinction is a great way for students to get their foot in the door at future college and/or job placements. This achievement is an amazing way to be recognized for a student's hard work while in school. An important factor of Honors and Distinction is that it is possible to qualify for one without the other. This means that it is possible to graduate with honors without distinction or vice versa. The requirements also give students real-life skills to accelerate their studies and help them make a real positive difference in their lives.

Graduating with Honors

This year, Seniors are able to take their first free ACT paper test on Oct. 6 since Covid-19 canceled last year’s test. Tennessee graduates who earn at or above the college readiness benchmark scores on the ACT will qualify to graduate with Honors. The minimum score requirements to receive the Honors recognition are as follows: English requires a score of 18, Math requires a score of 22, Reading requires a score of 22, and Science requires a score of 23.

Graduating with Distinction

To graduate with Distinction is also a fantastic way to be recognized for a student’s hard work. Tennessee graduates who maintain a B average (GPA of 3.0 or higher) and complete an additional approved credential will graduate with Distinction. The requirements to be recognized for Distinction are as follows: the student is nationally or state-recognized industry certification, Tennessee Governor’s School, All-State Musical Organization, earn statewide recognition or award art skill or knowledge-based state tournament, convention, or competition hosted by a statewide student organization and/or qualify for national recognition by a national student organization, National Merit finalist or semifinalist, a composite of 31 or higher on the ACT, a score of 3 or higher on two AP exams, or 12 or more semester hours of post-secondary credit.

Honors and distinction is a great way to get recognized for being a hard-working graduate. Those who qualify to earn Honors and Distinction are awarded at graduation, get a special spot in the yearbook, and many more positive outcomes to help better life after high school. Honors and Distinction Seniors also wear a colored sash at graduation. This opportunity is definitely worth the work and effort to portray integrity and determination to future employers or universities. If a student is interested in being eligible for honors and/or distinction, it is advised to communicate with his or her school counselor.

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