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Graduation rates: Lanesville leads

Graduation rates: Lanesville leads
Graduation rates: Lanesville leads
Illustration by Alisha Sonner

When the 2006-07 statewide graduation rates for public high schools were announced last Tuesday, one Harrison County school landed at the top of the list.
Of Lanesville Junior-Senior High School’s 49 seniors, 48 graduated for a rate of 98 percent, up 4.5 percent from 2005-06.
The only school with a higher graduation rate statewide was Burris Laboratory School, a subsidiary of Ball State University, which graduated all 31 of its students.
Second on the public school list was Morgan Township High School in Porter County, which turned in a 97.4-percent graduation rate.
The rates reflect a new graduation rate calculation put in place for the 2005-06 school year and amended for 2006-07’s students.
‘The credit should go to our students as a group and to our staff ‘ kindergarten through 12th grade ‘ for working with our students,’ said Sam Gardner, interim superintendent of Lanesville Community School Corp. ‘The Franklin Township community should also be recognized for their support of the local public school.
‘There is a tremendous amount of pride here, and it really is a very special place,’ he said. ‘The high graduation rate is a very positive part of the school program in Lanesville.’
Gardner added that students in the Lanesville schools perform very well on the required state assessments, and 75 percent of its graduates move on to a higher education program.
About three-quarters (76.5 percent) of Indiana students earned a high school diploma within four years in 2007, a 0.4-percent increase over the previous year.
In addition to the 11.9 percent of reported high school dropouts/undetermined, non-graduates include students who earned a GED (2.7 percent), a special education certificate (1 percent), a non-diploma course completion certificate (0.6 percent) and those still enrolled in school (7.3 percent).
‘The stark reality that not all high school students graduate is by no means a new concern in America, but earning a diploma has never been more critical to future opportunities than it is today,’ said Dr. Suellen Reed, Indiana’s Supt. of Public Instruction. ‘Despite signs of improvement in some communities, far too many Hoosier students leave school lacking this basic credential.’
The second-best rate in Harrison County came from South Central Junior-Senior High School, which posted a mark of 90 percent, graduating 72 of its 80 seniors. The mark was up 4.9 percent from the previous year.
‘We are starting to see some real bright spots, but it takes a while to convince people that what we are doing really does have an impact,’ said Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent of South Harrison Community School Corp. ‘The teachers and administration at South Central are working extremely hard.’
North Harrison High School had 176 eligible seniors, with 151 eventually earning their diploma for a graduation rate of 85.8 percent, up 4.6 percent from the prior year.
‘Mr. (Kelly) Simpson and Mr. (Doug) Dodge work real hard to keep kids in school, and we have to also look at the alternative school,’ said Dr. Phil Partenheimer, superintendent of North Harrison Community School Corp. ‘In the past, if we had an expulsion or suspension, there was nowhere for the student to go. With the alternative school, (they) don’t have to lose credit because they have a place to go to complete their classes.’
Partenheimer also believes the character education program at NHHS ‘ which awards prizes and a new car from Heritage Ford for such things as good grades and perfect attendance ‘ is beneficial.
‘Attendance and behavior improved quite a bit upon implementation of the program,’ he said. ‘These things help to improve students’ graduation rates.’
Partenheimer also said, ‘There’s so much more pressure nowadays to begin an adult life with high school education, it’s now a beginning. In the past, it wasn’t always necessary to be successful in high school. It used to you be you didn’t have to have that, but with the pressure of being global economy, no longer is a high school diploma an end to an educational career, but a beginning.’
While he was content with an almost 86-percent graduation rate, Partenheimer said the mark isn’t satisfactory until it becomes 100 percent, which will be extremely difficult to accomplish but isn’t an unattainable goal.
‘With students, you are fighting poverty, lack of parental interest, family disruptions, pregnancies, dysfunctional situations that kids come from, it’s very difficult to overcome,’ Partenheimer said. ‘But we have caring teachers and competent teachers along with the instructional aides who all care for these students. The combination of community, faculty, support staff and administration all work together on graduating our students.’
Corydon Central High School had 178 seniors, with 141 graduating for a 79.2-percent rating, which was down 1 percent from the previous effort.
‘The larger the school, the larger the proportionality and difficulty in keeping rates up,’ Clark said. ‘We’re working with addressing individual needs of students. Our issue at Corydon Central is to try to look at using the alternative program a little more effectively. The alternative school has a good success rate, and that’s a tribute to the job the folks at the school do … ‘
Clark said yesterday he learned South Harrison has met its Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goal in all of its schools except for South Central in the areas of special education and language arts programs.
‘We’ve got a lot of initiatives in place and some of them are taking a little longer than others to take hold. The teachers there are working hard, but it just takes time to get some of those things implemented and going in the right direction,’ he said. ‘The fact that we made AYP is not surprising because our instructional staff has worked extremely hard and to get these results is very rewarding.’