One of Superintendent Brian Maher's goals when he first came on board with the district a little over a year ago was to raise graduation rates. They're up by a little more than three percent to nearly 84 percent, which he says is no accident.
Students at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls are celebrating homecoming this week, but they're also excited to hear that some of their classmates who were once at risk of not graduating on time will now.
"I like how Sioux Falls has found other ways for kids to graduate, some kids are more hands on, which is easier for them to graduate, which can increase that," senior Joseph Arndt said.
"I think they understand to get a job that pays well you have to graduate. A lot of students understand that, so they're working harder to graduate" senior Kat Grangaard said.
And they're getting help in and out of the classroom.
"I really thought when I interviewed and saw that it was hovering around 80 percent, I really thought we could do better," Maher said.
Maher says the reason for the increase is because the district and staff have made a concerted effort to build relationships with those students who struggle.
"At each high school, there's a weekly meeting to talk about students who are at risk and those students get phone calls at home, visits from counselors, visits from assistant principals or principals, social workers. All those groups played a piece in getting that individual student to the finish line," Maher said.
And students take notice.
"I agree the counselors are doing a lot better job and I honestly think the teachers genuinely care about the students and they are energized to teach," senior Reason Givens said.
Maher says he's most impressed that the graduation rate in Sioux Falls has risen across the board, regardless of a student's race or economic status.
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High school graduation rates are up in the Sioux Falls School District.