A graduation coach hired in February through a grant addressed the Upshur County Board of Education about the progress of the new program.
Shanna Parlock, the graduation coach, was hired to help increase the graduation rate in Upshur County through programs that promote a positive school environment. She said that the graduation rate has improved this year.
These programs include positive and healthy transitions from middle school to high school or from elementary school to middle school.
Something Parlock implemented to help make the transition to middle school easier for fifth-graders is to provide them with locks for their lockers so they can get used to that routine. Parlock said it helps them to be less fearful of the transition.
Eighth-graders tour not only the high school, but also the Fred Eberle Technical Center as well. They are taught about the programs offered there.
A reward program was designed to promote a positive grade-point average, school attitude and attendance record.
Parlock said students are given "AAA" cards, explaining it is an acronym for Academics, Attitude and Attendance. Students who exhibit a poor attendance, attitude and earn low grades are considered to be at-risk of dropping out.
Students who exhibit all three traits in the positive are given a special pass that allows them to move to the front of lines, gain access to certain areas at school, receive free admission to school sporting events and gives discounts at participating businesses.
"The students are very excited about this," Parlock said, adding that a digital imaging class is competing for the design of those reward cards. "It's all going to be student-made."
Parlock also has established mentoring programs for the middle and high school. The program for the middle school addresses all sixth-grade students, while the same program at the high school only addresses students that are considered to be at-risk of dropping out.
Parlock also said that each month, a celebration of different positive character trait is conducted. She said September was "Respect Your Elders" Month. It featured a luncheon for grandparents. Students wrote letters about an elderly person in their lives for their English class.
"We're appropriating these character developments into lessons," Parlock said.