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Dropout rate drops; CCHS numbers below state average

Report shows 25 Crook County High School students dropped out during the 2005-06 school year
Crook County High School chopped its dropout rate in half during the 2005-2006 school year, with 25 students choosing to drop out of school.
   Recently released reports from the Oregon Department of Education indicate that in 2005-2006, 25 students left CCHS. That's a large change from the previous year, when 54 had dropped out, and from 2003-2004, when a whopping 93 had dropped out.
   Additionally, CCHS's dropout rate during this past school year was below the rest of the state. According to ODE reports, 4.1 percent of students left school, or 7,397 in grades 9 through 12, out of 180,524 total high school students. By comparison, 2.5 percent of CCHS students had dropped out.
   "I want to be below a 2 percent dropout rate," said CCHS Principal Jim Golden. The 25 students who left represent 2.5 percent of the student population.
   "I think our district and in particular, our high school has been focusing on these kids we had not been making it with," Golden said. "Our superintendent, Dr. (Steve) Swisher ... he understands the need to create a continuum of services for kids."
   For example, Pioneer High School was opened to help struggling students graduate from high school. Changes have also been apparent at CCHS.
   "In the high school itself, we've made it a goal that every kid needs a significant mentor in their life," Golden said.
   That is being accomplished through a new class called Student Connections, in which every student has an adult mentor all four years of school.
   He added that the school staff have also made it a goal to "monitor, mentor and motivate" all students to be successful and to go on to a post high school experience.
   "I truly believe it's about creating a welcoming atmosphere, respecting diversity and trying to meet kids where they're at," Golden said.
   Compared with CCHS, 21 Redmond High School students dropped out last year, and 62 Madras High School youth left school.
   According to ODE Communications Director Gene Evans, the 4.1 percent was the lowest rate the state has reported since statewide documentation began in 1991.
   "Dropout rates for white students decreased slightly, while the dropout rates for Asian, African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students showed increases," Evans said. "Yeah, it looks like Crook County was cutting it in half, so it'll be interesting to see what they were doing to make that change."
   He said that in looking at regular, non-alternative high schools, Roosevelt High School had the highest percent of dropouts, at 11.3 percent. Among alternative high schools, the dropout rate was higher across the state.
   "And there are several alternative high schools that are higher, in the 20-30 percent range," Evans said. "Then on the other end, we had 21 schools with dropout rates of less than 1 percent."
   Golden emphasized a few points in closing to the community and to parents.
   "The only thing I'd add is we really want to make sure our parents are part of this school," Golden said. "We really want to make it with every single kid."