Washoe County School Officials Meeting To Discuss Dropout Rate

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Local school officials and other youth services gathered at Wooster High School for the "Ready for Life" Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday to discuss why nearly 20-thousand students from the Class of 2008 dropped out of high school in Nevada.

At Hug High School in Reno a more hands-on approach by the staff
has kept more students in school. And by exchanging information with other schools on Wednesday, Hug was hoping to lower its dropout rate even further.

Twelve percent of the students from the Class of 2006 dropped out of Washoe County high schools, according to the school district. And Hug principal Andy Kelly says that's mostly because schools are struggling to make a strong connection with their students.

"They walk down a busy hallway and there are many kids and adults that they pass who they don't know," said Kelly. "And the kid, in essence becomes anonymous and when kids become anonymous, the minute they become frustrated in school, it's an opportunity to drop out and sometimes nobody even notices."

Hug senior Cynthia Alcala agrees and says more than 50 percent of her friends have dropped out since her freshman year, mostly because school takes a backseat to other issues.

"Students care more about money and about having the money than having an education and just being successful," said Alcala.

Financial concerns along with teen pregnancy and home life highlight the "Ready for Life" meeting which principal Kelly said he planned on attending. Kelly said there are many reasons why a kid drops out of school, but it typically happens between their freshman and sophomore year. That's why he and Dean of Engagement Rollins Stallworth encourage teachers to build strong relationships with their students almost immediately.

"That freshman kid usually has six teachers during the course of the day," said Stallworth. "If one or two of those teachers make it a priority for that student and that student feels that and bonds with that relationship, I think that will give that student that little bit of edge they'll need."

One in four Hug freshmen dropped out of school last year and while that definitely isn't ideal, it is a 19 percent decrease from five years ago.