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Best Grad Rates in History But we aren't stopping here

Last month, we celebrated our highest graduation rate in history. I was glad to see our rate tick upward and will be glad to see more faces and shake more hands of students crossing the stage to earn a diploma.

The grad rate is more than just a number — behind that statistic is the work that we all do to support students.

I know that behind each student that graduates from our schools is a team of caring, dedicated staff members. All of the interactions you share with students make a difference — from the bus drivers greeting students with a smile, to the FAN advocates finding warm winter boots for students in need, to our Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate teachers creating rigorous coursework to keep students engaged and challenged.

The work you do matters and makes a difference in the lives of our students.

I know when you are cleaning our schools, comforting a kindergartner on the playground, helping a freshmen find a good book to read or baking fresh bread for our schools, you are likely not thinking about the graduation rate. But your work makes our schools warm, welcoming places where students feel safe and ready to learn.

The graduation rate for Bend-La Pine Schools has climbed more than 10 percentage points in the past six years. But we are not satisfied. We know we have more work to do.

I want ALL of our students to graduate with a plan for the future.

New this year, we have graduation coaches who are working with staff at each high school to identify and support students who need extra help. We are identifying struggling students earlier — with the hopes that we can get them back on track. And the number of freshmen considered on track for graduation is continuing to improve.

I would like to also take notice of a particular group of staff members who do a great deal to help our students graduate and plan for the future. Feb. 5-9 is National School Counselor week. I want to say THANK YOU to our middle and high school counselors. You do so much for our students and schools. Thank you for the dedication, care, patience and heart you show our students. When you see a counselor, be sure to tell them thank you for all they do.

— Shay Mikalson, Superintendent

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