Class of 2003 praised for its success at Jefferson High

Jefferson High School awards diplomas to 394 graduates Sunday.

Jefferson High School awards diplomas to 394 graduates Sunday.

June 02, 2003|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson High School students who boosted their test scores and attendance rates, leading the school out of a "seriously impaired status" last year, bid farewell to the institution Sunday.

During their graduation ceremonies at Shepherd College, members of the class of 2003 were praised for their academic success.

Principal Susan Wall said she felt a "touch of sadness" watching the estimated 394 graduates leave.

She told students to never give up in their quest for excellence.

Wall told students when they meet their goals, "find a new dream and strive to make it come true. Learning is a lifelong process."

In 2001, Jefferson High School was given the seriously impaired status after the school fell below standards for dropout and attendance rates, and test scores.


The state Department of Education requires schools to have an attendance rate of at least 92.5 percent but Jefferson High's dipped to 90.2 percent in the 2000-2001 school year, school officials said.

Schools are required to have a dropout rate of 5 percent or lower but Jefferson High's had climbed to 8.5 percent, school officials said.

And in the Stanford 9 achievement test, the state requires that no more than 15 percent of a school's students score in the bottom quartile.

At Jefferson High, 17.18 percent of the school's students scored in the lower quartile in June 2001, school officials said.

Through teamwork and extra teaching resources, the school rose out of the impaired status, school officials said.

The school's attendance rate went to 94 percent, the dropout rate narrowed to 4.1 percent and 15 percent of the school's students scored in the bottom quartile of the Stanford 9 achievement test, school officials said.

Students interviewed after Sunday afternoon's ceremonies at the Butcher Center said it was a mix of natural ability and coaxing by teachers that made the success story happen.

"Our class is full of overachievers, I think," said Beth Ferguson.

Incentives, such as not having to take semester exams if three or fewer days of school were missed, also helped, said Laurel Kenney.

Amelia Martin, who graduated magna cum laude, said she liked the emphasis teachers placed on writing. Martin said she believed students' writing skills were greatly enhanced through "power writing," in which students were required to write stories every six weeks about experiences in their classes.

Was graduating magna cum laude Martin's goal?

"I just did it," said Martin, one of 149 students who graduated with honors.

Besides their test scores, Wall said the 2003 graduating class was talented in other areas, such as sports and the arts.

Wall tried to prepare the students for what they will face ahead, and reminded them that "selfishness has no place" in their lives.

One by one, the graduates walked to the front of the gym to pick up their diplomas.

Each student was handed a flower. Then their maroon caps were tossed into the air at the close of the ceremony.

The Herald-Mail Articles