Administration Focused On Making Sure Seniors Will Be Able To Graduate

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It’s sad to think that the Class of 2021 is taking their last year in high school in such a unideal way. Unfortunately, because of the circumstances seniors may have to miss out on many of their events. 

This includes, Prom, senior trips, the Senior Walk, senior prank, and most importantly graduation. 

Like last year, seniors may have to receive their diplomas as their families watch from a car window. 

Obviously this is not what students had in mind for their big day. Graduation is one of the most important days for a student, so it is imaginable that many if not all seniors are not happy with what might become their graduation. 

In response to this, how will the administration in our school make sure that graduation rates do not drop this year given that graduations may not be done as previous years, which was a great motivation for students? 

“The biggest factor impacting graduation rates this year is the challenges that online education brings,” said assistant principal in charge of curriculum, Ms. Ruesch. “Many of our students are working jobs to support their families, which can make it difficult to attend or stay caught up with school work.  Many other students are facing the challenges of feeling lonely and down, which can also make it difficult to do schoolwork.” 

Communication has always been a key factor to make sure students continue to work towards graduation. This is true whether classes are in person or online. 

However, what new methods have been created specific to the current situation to help seniors continue working to the ultimate goal? 

“Something that we are implementing specifically this year with distance education is targeted wellness home visits for our students,” said assistant principal Ms. Loewy. “ We have our social workers, Communities in Schools staff, and our Boystown representatives going to homes to find out the immediate needs of our students, seniors included, to ensure that they are participating in distance learning.”

Many seniors have complained that the workload has doubled and are becoming increasingly stressed over all the assignments the must turn in. How will the school respond to this? 

“With making the switch to distance education, the administration and teachers have continued to have conversations on the workload that is being placed upon the students,” said Loewy. “By continuing this conversation, getting feedback from students, and closely looking at the grade distribution data for each quarter, we’re ensuring that we’re meeting the needs of our students so that our seniors and the other grade levels can have a manageable workload and complete their credits successfully.”

Mr. Ramos, the College and Career advisor for Sunrise Mountain also had something interesting to say regarding the graduation rates for this year. 

“I think the administration will have as much communication and understanding as possible with everything this year being new to us all,” said Ramos. “I do feel like Sunrise has a great staff and I feel graduation rates will be as good as they’ve been. Counselors will still keep in touch with students and conduct their credit checks, of course they will be virtual.” 

There have been many students complaints about the new learning system. Students are feeling overworked with so many assignments and for seniors it is especially hard to make sure their grades and GPA doesn’t drop. 

Could this new factor cause graduation rates to drop as seniors may become overly stressed and frustrated? 

“We will do everything that we can to make sure graduation rates won’t drop this year,” said SMHS Principal Mr. Adams. “However, our most important focus is how we’re delivering instruction during distance education. Our students are struggling so far this year and have been overwhelmed. If we continue focusing on the way we deliver instruction through distance education, then hopefully our graduation rates will not decrease.”

Every student is different not just on character but in their current situations at home. How will administration make sure every student has the help they need for graduation?

“The biggest thing is we all are in communication to understand everyone’s circumstances are different this year,” said Ramos. “We will definitely focus more on students’ needs more than any other year because of how bizarre this year has been. I think this year won’t be much different just that things are virtual and we contact students directly from home if needed.”

Teachers must help just as much as the administration. As they have the most contact with students, what are teachers doing to make sure graduation rates do not drop? 

“Personally I don’t think there is any reason as to why graduation rates should drop this year,” said Special Programs teacher Mr. Waterhouse. “However, I think administration and teachers most importantly should use technology to motivate their students. Teachers should also consider the virtual options like Canvas and Clever which are available to students. It is also very important for teachers to make sure that students have access to digital devices and are able to access the internet at all times.” 

Some teachers have had many problems with adapting to the new system due to the fact that many don’t prefer using technology or used it as little as possible. Could technological misunderstanding between students and teachers cause rates to drop. 

“Several teachers have stepped up to train other teachers in how to effectively use Canvas to provide instruction,” said Social Studies teacher Mr. Moshides. “This is a new experience for all of us, so we are all trying new ways to engage students online and to maintain the path to graduation.”

Teachers, administrators, and counselors are all working together to help students in the most effective way possible to make sure the situation has no affect on the graduating class for 2021. 

Every school staff is working hard to make this year as normal as possible for students. Everyone is helping each other to overcome the problems that not just students must face but teachers and administrators do too. 

“As a school, we face the challenge of trying to stay connected with our students and families and trying to help them from a distance,” said Ruesch. “To help with these issues, we are meeting with our teacher leaders more often to discuss these concerns and how we can help students. The counselors have been meeting with seniors that are off-track and connecting them with credit retrieval options.”

Is there really any reason for graduation rates to drop this year? 

“Students need to make sure that they do what they should be doing,” said Waterhouse. “The requirements have not changed so as long as students work hard and stay on top of their assignment then we should not have a problem with graduation rates going down.”

Other than the tactics already stated to stay in contact with the students and parents, are there any other new things that have been implemented that were not there before?

“The teachers and administrators are working hard to make sure graduation rates do not fall,” said Moshides. “It has been challenging because all of our students are working at home where many are dealing with interruptions that would not be experienced in the classroom. The school has scheduled time for wellness checks and office hours in order to maintain a meaningful connection with students.”

This may not be the ideal situation for students, but that does not mean we don’t have to keep working hard. 

Ultimately this is a team effort. Administrators, teachers, students, and parents must work together as one team so that students can reach graduation no matter where it is.