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District proud of dropout rate

July 28, 2009
WOLFEBORO — School Board member Ernie Brown is proud of the Governor Wentworth Regional School District. So proud, he even let New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry, Ph.D., know it. In doing so, the Department of Education's Web site, www.ed.state.nh.us/education, is currently home to a photo and small article regarding the district's notable achievement of maintaining a very low, possibly non-existent, dropout rate.

Reading that, "Although a final determination will not be made until October 1, 2009, the Governor Wentworth Regional School District is anticipating between a zero and one percent dropout rate for the 2008-2009 school year," Brown says the district has come a long way, a far cry from when Brown first got involved with the School Board in 1985 (approximately), when the dropout rate averaged approximately 10 to 12 percent. Brown commented that the "tremendous effort of our teachers and administration" who really "care about the students" is something to be recognized.

The Web site also notes that, "Along with the care and diligence of the staff and administration at Kingswood High School, a variety of individualized opportunities are available for students within the School District, including the Virtual Learning Academy, PLATO Learning, and correspondence classes." These alternatives to standard classroom learning environments create opportunities further adding to the district's success. Superintendent Jack Robertson added that, "The school board's openness to providing alternative learning environments and the dedicated work of the staff are the reasons why our dropout rate is so low."

While the district will not know for sure how many dropouts there were for the 2008-2009 school year until Oct. 1, the district has yet to "identify anyone that has left from either the Kingswood complex or Lakeside Academy." Students who do not return in the fall are considered dropouts for the past school year, hence the Oct. 1 determination. For several years the district has maintained a consistently low dropout percentage rate compared to that of the State's overall. In 2006-2007 the district reported a 2.40 percent dropout rate compared to New Hampshire's overall 3.20 percent. Better still, the district achieved a 1.80 percent dropout rate for the 2007-2008 school year.

Robertson commented, "When it comes to education, one size does not fit all. Providing alternatives for young people is very important if we are going to help them succeed." He reminds the community that the district's vision statement, "Helping each child create the future," reflects the district's acknowledgment that each pupil is a unique person with personalized educational strengths, as well as individual learning needs. The challenge now will be "for us is to maintain that kind of effort over time so that the culture in the school community becomes one where no one ever drops out of school," Robertson concluded.

Like Brown, Robertson is, "Proud of the effort that everyone is making to live up to the expectations of our vision statement." Whether it be a zero or one percent dropout rate, the Governor Wentworth Regional School District has achieved the mighty task of keeping students engaged in their schoolwork, interested in coming back, and prepared to move forward, accomplishments that require dedication and care which can be found in any of its staff, he added.

Heather Terragni can be reached at 569-3126 or hterragni@salmonpress.com

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