Hitting the streets to get kids into the classroom
Last year we confronted our state's and district's dismal graduation rates by focusing on each individual senior in danger of slipping through the cracks. I'm proud of the work and results we've seen.
Our "Reclaim Your Future" campaign identified hundreds of students who dropped out because they thought it didn't matter and nobody would notice, but were coaxed back to their traditional school or an alternative program by caring staff members and community volunteers.
If you can give a few hours of your time the morning of Saturday, September 22, we have a chance for you to join this fulfilling work. We will knock on hundreds of doors, sit down with students and parents in their living rooms, and talk about how we can get those seniors into a cap and gown. For more information or to volunteer for the Reclaim Your Future campaign, please contact the CCSD Partnership Office at 799-6560 or visit www.ccsd.net/reclaim-your-future.
Of course, I know this work isn't easy. Last year, I spoke with a Clark High School senior in his living room, and he promised me he would give it a shot and return to school that Monday. He did but left again a few days later. I hope that one day he'll remember a few people from his community who cared enough to ask why he stopped going to school, and he'll decide to pursue an education. This young man was a better-than-average student. What a loss!
But there are many stories of success. While our graduation numbers haven't been formalized by the state, it looks like we'll leap by several percentage points -- more than any other large district in the country. This is an impressive statistic, especially for a district condemned in the national press for years as having one of the worst graduation rates in the nation.
Reclaim Your Future is only one way we are reaching out to students at risk of not graduating. We will offer community mentors to each student we speak to on September 22. We offer a variety of new ways for students to recover credits and study for their proficiency exams. New "bridge" programs this summer helped students moving to middle school or high school persevere through the most difficult transitions in their school careers. Our more rigorous middle school curriculums will better prepare students for their challenging high school years.
We will continue to increase our graduation rate student by student, one diploma at a time. It takes a lot of work from our staff members and community supporters. But we're doing it and changing lives for the better.
Superintendent Dwight D. Jones