BOURBON — The numbers are in, and Triton Jr./Sr. High School boasts the highest 2012 graduation rate of all Marshall County school corporations. The report from the Indiana Department of Education, the latest available, was released last week.
The IDOE website gives the following understanding of sought-after graduation rates: “Indiana’s unwavering focus on the high school graduation rate is part of our goal to create and promote a statewide culture of academic excellence in which at least 90 percent of students graduate from high school in four years or less. This is necessary to achieve our vision that the academic achievement and career preparation of all Indiana students will be the best in the United States and on par with the most competitive countries in the world.”
Since 90 percent graduation seems to be the standard, all school corporations try their best to achieve this criterion. Success varies, impacted by such factors as home environment, teacher preparation, parental education levels, and budgetary constrictions. Triton posted the highest county graduation rate at 93.8 percent. County school corporations, in descending order of their recorded graduation percentages, are:
• 93.8% — Triton
• 92.6% — Bremen
• 91.6% — Plymouth
• 83.0% — Union North (LaVille)
• 82.1% — Culver Community
• 81.1% — Argos.
Only John Glenn in nearby St. Joseph County posted a higher rate at 94.2 percent. Other schools in nearby counties reported as follows: Rochester – 92.9 percent; Warsaw – 91.2 percent; Oregon-Davis – 82 percent; Knox – 79.5 percent; and Tippecanoe Valley – 77.8 percent.
This graduation success comes at a time when Triton is gearing up to move even more aggressively into the graduation arena. Hugh Rettinger, junior-senior high school guidance counselor, is retiring at the end of this school year. He said he is gratified with the last available graduation report before his retirement.
In Triton’s mind, every high school graduate will need at least two additional years of training to compete effectively in the job market. This requirement might be a two-year terminal associate degree in a field such as law enforcement or nursing. It might be an associate degree which can then be applied to a four-year college degree. Or, it might be a two-year certificate in such fields as auto mechanics, welding, house construction, or medical technology.
Triton is endorsing the educational concept of completing the additional two years by the end of the 12th grade. Costs for these essentially two years of college are not passed on to the students, which translates into the first two years of college free. “I would love to hand students a high school diploma and an associate degree or technical certification at their high school graduation,” said principal Mike Chobanov.
So, Triton is implementing at least three avenues toward the two-year degree. First, Triton will become an Early College High School by fall, 2013. Certain faculty and staff members will attend a conference in April at the University of Indianapolis, home of the CELL program which certifies ECHSs. On tap to begin teaching college credit courses in the fall which will result in an associate degree from Ivy Tech are the following teachers: Susan Dietzel, English; Mark Heeter, history; Claire Benge, economics, government, or psychology, and Carrie Orlowski, calculus. Such courses will be open to juniors and seniors at first, but will then be available to students in grades nine through 12, as recommended by the CELL supervisors. Course offerings will be expanded in future years.
Second, science teacher Dawn Slein will be heading up Project Lead the Way, designed to lead interested students into careers in engineering or medicine. The Advanced Placement courses in this program will not result in a two-year degree, but may apply two years of college credit toward either of these fields.
Third, physical education teacher Ron Brown will be working with Vincennes University toward offering a two-year associate degree in law enforcement. Brown, who also has a law degree, will offer two beginning courses in the 2013-14 school year, eventually adding all classes required for graduation by VU. Thirty students have already expressed interest in this program for next year.