Owen Tilley

Wetumpka High School graduate Owen Tilley was named co-salutatorian a week and a half after graduation due to a calculation error.

Wetumpka recently recognized a second salutatorian after miscalculating a weighted Advanced Placement class after the school’s graduation ceremony. 

Class of 2019 graduate Owen Tilley, 18, graduated with a 4.329 grade point average, the same as co-salutatorian Gabe Hankins. At the time of graduation, the mistake was not noticed and Tilley was not recognized.

Tilley said his AP psychology class was counted as a standard class instead of AP and was not weighted when calculating grades. 

Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis said he was contacted by an administrator about the error a week and a half after graduation.

“They had only caught it after the fact, so when reviewing it we ended up with another salutatorian so we wanted to recognize him,” Dennis said.

Tilley will receive a plaque for being co-salutatorian and will be recognized in the school’s yearbook.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Celeste Tilley, Owen’s mother. “I knew he worked extremely hard all year. It validated all of his hard work so we were proud of that.”

Owen Tilley said he doesn’t have any hard feelings against the school for the mistake.

“I was very shocked to say the least because it came out of nowhere,” Tilley said. “I thought it was done and over but I’m glad they spotted the mistake because they didn’t notice it and they took the time to make the mistake right. They could’ve easily overlooked it and let it slide, but they owned up to it and they made things right and I’m really appreciative of that.”

Celeste Tilley previously worked in school administration and because schools are busy at the end of the year, said she couldn’t be mad about the mix-up.

“We appreciate the school taking the time to give him recognition that he missed out at graduation and we love Wetumpka and the community and the school,” Celeste Tilley said.

Dennis praised Tilley as “a smart young man and very capable.”

Tilley will attend Auburn University in the fall and plans to major in engineering. While it may be harder to achieve, Tilley said he may set a goal of being at the top of his class at Auburn. 

“It was a little bit more important to me in high school because my older brother and sister were both valedictorians, so I definitely felt like I had a legacy to live up to,” Tilley said. “In college it will be infinitely harder but I’m not really one to give up.”