Murphy said he favors the valedictorian system, although he conceded he heard good arguments in favor of an honors system.
Proponents of the honors system, including Deputy Superintendent Frank Aliveto, said it will allow more than a few students to be recognized for high achievement.
"I'm all for this and I strongly believe in this," Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said.
Aliveto said the honors system ties into the weighted grades issue, which was discussed Wednesday night.
By the same 4-1 vote, board members approved a separate policy allowing weighted grades to be used in higher-level classes, such as Advanced Placement courses. That policy takes effect with the upcoming school year.
A student could theoretically manipulate the weighted grades system to alter his or her GPA. Because of that, for the next two years for class rank purposes, all GPAs will be calculated on a 4.0 scale, rather than the 5.0 scale possible with weighted classes, Aliveto said.
After the honors system takes effect with the class of 2006, a student still will know his or her rank because that information will be on transcripts, Aliveto said.
Under the honors system, students with GPAs of between 3.0 and 3.399 will be recognized as graduating cum laude. Those with GPAs of between 3.4 and 3.799 will be recognized as magna cum laude and those with GPAs of 3.8 and above will be recognized as summa cum laude.
Students with GPAs of 3.0 and above will be recognized as Berkeley Scholars and will receive either bronze, silver or gold cords.
Hedgesville High School Principal Don Dellinger, who attended the meeting, said he favors the system. Seven students who will be seniors this fall all have perfect 4.0 GPAs and all could qualify as valedictorian if they maintain that average, he said. He plans to meet with the top 25 students at Hedgesville High to discuss the imminent changes.