W.Va. high schools recognized for high graduation rates

By Carrie Hodousek
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Seventy high schools in West Virginia had graduation rates of 90 percent or greater during the 2015-2016 school year.

Those school principals and county superintendents were recognized by the state Department of Education Friday at the state Capitol.

Union Educational Complex in Grant County was one of four schools to receive a 100 percent graduation rate. Principal Libby Riley thanked her teachers and faculty.

“I’m very proud of all my staff and the work that’s gone behind it because it’s a community effort for every child to graduate,” Riley said.

Communication and support is key to maintain their rate next year, Riley said.

“We try to keep as much communication between the teachers, the parents and the students, so they know. We work really hard to make the students responsible for their own actions,” she said.

Other schools that received graduation rates of 100 percent included Harmon High School and Pickens High School, both in Randolph County, and Paden City High School in Wetzel County.

The 70 schools recognized represent 60.3 percent of the 116 high schools in West Virginia.

The average graduation rate for West Virginia high schools in the 2015-2016 school year was 89.81 percent. That placed West Virginia among the top 20 states for graduation rates.

Recent data from the state DOE shows more students in West Virginia are graduating from high school compared to previous years. Dr. Michael Martirano, state Superintendent of Schools, said the more children that get their high school diploma, the better off the state will be.

“When children don’t graduate, they are just destined for every social problem imaginable from issues with drugs, issues with juvenile delinquency — all of those negative issues contribute to a lower quality of life for our citizens,” Martirano said.

That’s why support from teachers and staff is so important, according to Todd Barnette, principal at Sherman High School in Boone County.

“There was somebody at that high school whether it was a teacher, a coach, a counselor, a cook, a bus driver, someone who — probably for several kids — is the reason they didn’t drop out of high school,” Barnette said.

Sherman was recognized for achieving a 91.11 percent graduation rate last year.

“One of the greatest things we can do to help a young person have the power to choose their own success in their life is to help them achieve that high school graduation diploma,” Barnette said.

Last year, Martirano said 47 out of West Virginia’s 116 schools achieved graduation rates of 90 percent or greater. There are 23 additional high schools this year who achieved those rates.

“Ninety percent is the floor,” he said. “We want it to go even higher.”

To do that, Martirano said every child needs to be in school every day.

“That’s something that families can control regardless of your academic abilities. You can say I”m going to show up every day and I’m going to work hard’. That’s what I want every parent and every citizen in this state to work with our young people to say ‘you got to be in school’,” he said.