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Principal hopeful of lowering dropouts

Golden says Pioneer School will help lower dropout rate
Attendance rates this year at Crook County High School have increased.
   "The current attendance rate is up from last year," said Principal Jim Golden. Ninety-two percent of freshmen attended, and 92.1 percent of sophomores were in regular attendance. Juniors and seniors were at 92 and 90.3 percent, respectively.
   This is all positive news for the school, particularly when comparing the percentages to last year.
   "I think approximately all of them were in the high 80s, and so they are up, which is good news," he said.
   Golden is also optimistic that the school's dropout rate will be reduced a few percentage points this year.
   "Last year our attendance rate was 89 percent and our dropout rate was 9.1 percent," he said. "I believe our dropout rate will be reduced because of two reasons. One because of Pioneer School, and two because we've been doing a better job of improving the climate within the school."
   School personnel have focused on three main points this academic year with students.
   "Be reasonable, be responsible and be respectful," Golden said. "That's been the lens through which we measure student behavior."
   When students have gotten into trouble, they are given community service.
   Several steps have helped improve the school's atmosphere. That includes students Ty McCullough and Kelli Johnson putting up art work to help beautify CCHS. Also, students have been doing a better job keeping the school grounds clean of litter.
   "Next year, we want to focus on recognizing students for attendance, behavior and grades," Golden said, adding that already CCHS does a good job of recognizing athletes, but needs to do a better job of honoring students' academic achievements.
   It's a matter of continuing to improve the school and "we look at the data in terms of our test scores, our attendance and how do we do a better job..." The Crook County School District has hired a literacy coordinator and two extra math teachers have been hired for the high school, to improve grades in math and English. Additionally, the district is hiring another counselor.
   "Then we will have a daily advisory next year to try to address our dropout rate and attendance," Golden said.
   "Now to improve our academics, we have to improve the rigor of our classes," he said, adding that teachers must improve the subjects' relevance and how they teach knowledge.
   "Basically the student connections will be four days a week and then on Thursdays, we will be inviting community residents to speak to our students about a variety of topics," he said. A 40-minute block of time will be set aside for this, and topics will include healthy lifestyles, employment opportunities, job fairs and others.