BELTON — House Bill 5 changed graduation plans, and the Belton Independent School District’s Board of Trustees heard details on how that will affect students, parents and teachers.

Ed Braeuer, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, highlighted specifics of a 17-page report issued by the State Board of Education.

“It promotes flexibility and balance between academic requirements and a student’s passion,” Braeuer said. “The current graduation plan is known as 4-by-4, and requires four years of math, English, science and social studies. It is the default plan for students in grades nine through 12.”

The new plan will affect students currently in eighth grade and younger, and features requirements similar to the minimum graduation plan.

One of the big changes is that not all students will have to take algebra II, depending on their course emphasis. Also, speech will no longer be required, but will be an elective.

The new graduation plan also requires two foreign language credits; however, certain technology classes may be substituted for those, Braeuer said.

Students are also required to earn specific endorsements that will help prepare them for future careers.

These endorsements are in four different categories:

Science, technology, engineering and math

Business and industry

Arts and humanities

Public services

“I think it’s wonderful to have all these options,” school board President Randy Pittenger said. “This also presents more challenges for parents and students trying to decide.”

Students take an interest inventory test to determine which courses and careers might be best for them to pursue, and also select an endorsement before they enter ninth grade, Braeuer said.

In other action, the board:

Recognized National Merit Scholar finalists John Jennings, Montana Minnis and Megan Nitcher.

Honored the Belton High School Challenge Team for Texas Quiz Bowl state tournament, to be held April 5 at Trinity University in San Antonio. Team members are seniors Brody Grogan and Matthew Kondratt and juniors Steven Dekeratry, Nishanth Lavendra and Trevor Reed. They are coached by Christine Williams.

Announced that John Jennings was selected as a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Recognized Ethan Becker, a senior at BHS, for winning fifth place in the Texas Veterans of Foreign War Voice of Democracy contest.

Becker won a $5,500 scholarship through the contest. The essay theme was: “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.”

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