Almost four dozen southwest Missouri school districts are wrapping up a special week focusing on improving high school graduation rates. The effort is considered a pilot project that could go statewide.
The thought behind the “graduation matters” effort is to plant the idea of graduation in students’ minds when they’re young and to create a community graduation climate led by faith-based organizations, business groups, schools, parents, and others.
Joplin superintendent C. J. Huff says the message for other districts is that the community must have a unified message for its children. “Students dropping out of school is not acceptable and the only option is to get, at the minimum, your high school diploma. You get everybody saying it over and over again…The main thing is to continue to have that united message and to never give up.” he says.
Huff says this has been a special week of emphasis but the effort has been underway for some time. He says the results are immediately visible. As he puts it, “We’re making a difference every day. We’re saving kids every day.”
He thinks the program can work anywhere.