MASON COUNTY — Two Mason County high schools were among the 70 recognized Friday in Charleston for achieving exemplary graduation rates of 90 percent or greater during the 2015-16 school year.
Both Hannan High School and Wahama High School were among the schools honored. While Wahama was 12th in the state with a graduation percentage rate of 97.10, Hannan came in 24th, with a percentage rate of 95.12. The school principals, Dr. Karen Oldham of Hannan and Kenny Bond of Wahama, were presented plaques for the accomplishments.
This is the second year schools were recognized statewide for exemplary graduation rates. This year, the schools were honored by Nick Casey, Gov. Jim Justice’s chief of staff; Dr. Michael J. Martirano, state superintendent of schools; and members of the state board of education.
“Our state becomes stronger with each student that graduates high school,” Dr. Martirano said during the ceremony. “The high schools here today deserve the praise they are receiving for achieving a 90 percent or higher graduation rate. Our schools see the potential that a high school graduate holds for our state and they, along with the Department of Education and board of education, have made it a top priority to ensure our students show up, work hard, and earn a diploma.”
Dr. Oldham said this is the second year Hannan has achieved the recognition. She stated in 2009, the school’s graduation rate was 62.5 percent and a lot of work has been done over the past years to improve.
“Exceeding 95 percent is something to be very proud of,” Dr. Oldham said.
Bond said this is the second year Wahama has been recognized, as well. He noted several years ago, the Bend Area school’s graduation rate was in the mid-eighties, but has grown by 12- to 15-percent in the last five years. Bond said he credits the teachers at the school for putting a “real emphasis on student achievement.”
Bond explained the recognition is based on a four-year cohort that follows students as they enter a school as freshmen. The same students are then examined as seniors to see how many of them graduate.
Recent data show more students in West Virginia are graduating from high school when compared to previous years. Several statewide initiatives contributed to the steady increase in the graduation rate, according to the state department of education. Most notably the creation of the state’s “Early Warning System,” which tracks 45 different indicators – the most important being attendance, behavior and grades – to identify students at risk of dropping out.
West Virginia’s graduation rate has continued to rise throughout the last several years. Data from the U.S. Department of Education placed West Virginia among the top 20 states for graduation rates in 2014-2015, with a rate of 86.5 percent. The average graduation rate in the Mountain State for the 2015-2016 school year increased even more to 89.81 percent.
The 70 schools recognized represented 60.3 percent of the 116 high schools in West Virginia.
(Part of the information for this story was obtained from a press release by the West Virginia Department of Education.)
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who can be reached at [email protected]