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I read the article concerning the most recent School Board meeting in the 24 November, 2011 issue of the Douglas County Herald and I particularly was drawn to the graduation rate report of our high school for the last few years.
Even though the rates were for five years in high school rather than the traditional four, 93%, 96%, and 100% were astonishing numbers to read. So much so that I called High School Principal Teresa Nash to be sure I understood her report – 100% of anything in education needs verification.
Mrs. Nash assured me that the statistic was accurate, and she went on to say that even if a four-year term in high school was used as the measure, the highest graduation rate of 100% would still have been 97%.
When you consider that many urban high schools pat themselves on the back when they graduate 50% of their students, and even the “better” high schools are content with 75% or 80% graduation rates, a continuing graduation rate well into the 90% area for a semi-rural high school like ours is just plain terrific! When those urban or “‘better” high schools get around to asking us how we graduate so many of our students, let’s be sure to point out the responsible parties: the Students of Ava High School.
It has been my experience that regardless of the educational environment, high school students pretty much do what they want to do. You can hound them, bribe them, cajole them, threaten them, beg them, it doesn’t do that much good. You can even throw down on them with a gun, but as soon as they are out of range, they still do whatever they wish. So, over several years, more than 93% of our students have made the personal decision to stick it out and successfully finish high school.
I believe one important reason for this, second perhaps only to the great unquenchable fire for intellectual advancement that all our students share, is the money. I have heard that a high school graduate will earn a million dollars more than a high school dropout over their working lifetime. My calculator says this means about $21,000 more per year for a graduate. And that seems entirely credible. Maybe in the beginning the difference might not be that great, but factor in the higher probability of a graduate being hired first and laid off last, to be promoted faster and even offered better positions. Those unemployed months add up as do those salary advancements.
Also, as we get older, relying on intellectual skills rather than physical stamina usually means a longer, easier, more productive, and more remunerative working career. So, whether it’s the undiluted drive toward scholastic achievement or the bucks, Ava High School students are making the right move. Be sure to tell them that you are proud that they have chosen the tougher road. And tell them early and often.
Now, if I could just get my grandchildren to read this letter…
Wayne William Cipriano