After months of pushback from students and families, Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) has reversed its decision to eliminate graduation honors for the Class of 2024 and younger classes.
Last summer, the school decided to eliminate red cords, which are braided ropes historically worn at graduation to recognize students who achieve at high levels academically and maintain a rigorous course schedule. This change was made alongside other handbook changes in July 2022.
However, many students and families objected strongly, saying that students have worked hard for years and, in some cases, designed their course schedules specifically to earn the right to wear these cords at graduation.
After significant outcry, the school agreed to allow the Class of 2023 to keep their red cords, and on Dec. 12, 2022, the school board voted to approve this change to the handbook.
Yet the change did not extend to other current or future graduating classes. Underclass students and their families have continued to complain to the school, school board, and EPLN about this decision.
In an email to EPHS families on Friday, Nate Gibbs, the school’s principal, said, “While there was some discussion last year about finding other ways to honor these students, over the last few months it has become clear that Red Cords are an important tradition here at EPHS — many of our students choose challenging courses and strive for success with an expectation they will be recognized at graduation with a Red Cord. We agree it is a valuable recognition for our scholars.”
For the class of 2023, which will graduate on Thursday, June 8, red cords will be awarded to graduates for completing six or more credits in the following areas and maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above:
- College in the Schools (CIS) courses.
- Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
- Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) courses.
- Dual Enrollment college courses.
Gibbs said the EPHS leadership team will work with district leadership in the coming weeks to update the handbook language to maintain red cords for future graduating classes.
“Separately from Red Cords, as part of our ongoing efforts to uplift student voice and recognize students’ diverse experiences, we will continue to work with graduating classes to develop and expand honors that reflect students’ many achievements,” he added.
“I am excited that our tradition of co-creating positive experiences with students and families continues here at EPHS, and I am grateful for the thoughtful advocacy and agency our students have shown throughout the school year.”
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