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Scappoose students not quitters

by: Art Heerwagen, Spotlight photo/Art Heerwagen
SHS teacher and advisor Rahim Tufts (left) is just one of many faculty members and staff who meet each week with an assigned group of about 10 students where educational profiles are created and discussed, relationships built, and futures planned.

While Oregon's high school dropout rates for 2007 showed a disturbing increase to 4.4 percent, Scappoose High School posted a near perfect rate of only 0.6 percent of its students who quit school before graduating.

'It's our perspective and commitment to know our students,' said District Superintendent Paul Peterson. 'Probably the biggest reason that we are retaining our students is a program where councilors, teachers, and staff are assigned a group of about 10 kids that they follow all the way through their high school experience. They meet each week during what's called 'Tribe Time,' where they get to know each student as an individual, offer advice, and help them plan their future.'

High school Principal Sue Hays said that SHS is there to serve its students.

'We offer lots of attractive options, like our new alternative school with connections back to the main school,' Hays said. 'In the last two years we had about 14 kids who dropped out, but we brought almost all of them back - we're aiming for zero percent dropouts for 2008 and a graduation rate of 100 percent.' School secretary Jami Schmid, who compiles the dropout records, said, 'We're at zero dropouts for this year, and I think opening the alternative school made a big difference.'

Hays added that the impression is that the kids really like SHS. 'We have a caring facility who is taking time to build relationships with the students,' she said. 'This, coupled with a strong reading program at the eighth-grade level helps bring them to the high school ready to set a direction for their future.'

Additionally, with the help of councilors and teacher/advisors, each student develops an educational plan and profile, according to Hays.

'This is their guide, and it follows them for all four years,' she said.

Peterson and Hays said that one of the district's top goals is to make sure that no student gets ignored. 'We don't want any kid to fall into a crack - we're sealing up those cracks.'

Both administrators pointed out that while the school's programs help, they also need and appreciate parent involvement.

'Scappoose is known around the state for some of its progressive things it's doing,' said Hays. 'Tribe Time, alternative school, sports, music, drama, clubs, and lots of activities give our kids a place where they belong - it works!'