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NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: SEPTEMBER 8, 2008


State Superintendent June Atkinson wants to ensure that everyone gets the message: graduate from high school and prepare for success in life. That was the theme for today's kickoff event for Graduation Awareness Week, Sept. 7-13, which featured awards to 10 school districts and 17 high schools with high graduation rates.

In addition to the awards ceremony, key leaders representing education associations, community groups, business and industry and the faith-based community signed a Call to Action and pledged to work throughout North Carolina to raise awareness of the importance of high school graduation. Also, students from Apex and Green Hope high schools in Wake County signed pledges to stay in school and graduate.

"High school graduation is a minimum goal today," Atkinson said in a news conference. "It's the basic level of education that adults need, but too many of our young people are not getting that minimum. My message to students is simple. Graduate from high school and be ready to chart the course you want for your life."

Atkinson said sending that message to students is only one part of the equation. Schools and communities also need to ensure that they are supporting students and their families and eliminating barriers to school success. Research shows that students benefit from smaller learning environments, opportunities to build relationships with their teachers and other adult leaders in their schools, rigorous and focused academics and support that helps them overcome setbacks in their school career.

Today's event kicks off a variety of activities to highlight graduation and to encourage community efforts to support students. A Web site, has been launched to provide information and resources on the topic. North Carolina's statewide cohort graduation rate for 2008 was 70 percent, a rate that has improved slightly since 2006 when the state first reported a four-year cohort rate.

Some schools and districts have created environments in which most, or even all, students are successfully graduating in four years or less. Educators from these schools and districts were recognized by Atkinson and State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee at the kickoff event and received certificates acknowledging their achievements. Recipients in the three recognition categories are as follows:

Top 10 School Districts

  • Elkin City Schools - 89.4 percent
  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools - 87.9 percent
  • Pamlico County Schools - 85.5 percent
  • Dare County Schools - 85.3 percent
  • Camden County Schools - 81.8 percent
  • Alleghany County Schools - 81.6 percent
  • Catawba County Schools - 81.2 percent
  • Newton-Conover Schools - 81.0 percent
  • Mount Airy City Schools - 81.0 percent
  • Ashe County Schools - 80.9 percent

100 Percent Graduation Rate Club

  • Burke Middle College, Burke County
  • Nantahala School, Macon County
  • Weaver Education Center, Guilford County
  • Greensboro College Middle College, Guilford County
  • Early College at Guilford, Guilford County
  • Highland School of Technology, Gaston County
  • Reid Ross Classical, Cumberland County
  • Cape Hatteras Secondary, Dare County

Top Two Schools by Ninth Grade Cohort Size

  • 0-99 Cohort
    Reid Ross Classical, Cumberland County - 100 percent Weaver Education Center, Guilford County - 100 percent
  • 100-199 Cohort
    Highland School of Technology, Gaston County - 100 percent Raleigh Charter High School - 98.3 percent
  • 200-299 Cohort
    First Flight High School, Dare County - 92.4 percent Reagan High School, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County - 91.9 percent
  • 300-399 Cohort
    Southeast Guilford High School, Guilford County - 92.1 percent Western Guilford High School, Guilford County - 91.9 percent
  • 400-499 Cohort
    Weddington High School, Union County - 93.3 percent Green Hope High School, Wake - 92.6 percent
  • 500+ Cohort
    Northwest Guilford High School, Guilford County - 92.7 percent Apex High School, Wake County - 90.1 percent

For more information about today's kickoff event, please call the NC Department of Public Instruction's Communication division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.