More High School Kids Graduating in Washoe County

Washoe County’s graduation rate hit 70 percent in June, up 7 percent from the year before and up from 56 percent three years ago.

A jubilant Superintendent Heath Morrison says administrators, principals, teachers, counselors, and support staff will not rest on their laurels.

The American History class at Sparks High School is learning about the Declaration of Independence by creating its own set of independent declarations.

Senior, Casey Agundez, has no problem these days declaring himself a full-time and committed student.

But that wasn't always the case.

Unmotivated, more concerned about hanging out with friends, some of his grandmother's final words he says, put him back on track.

“She was sick. She was suffering from Leukemia for about nine months, and she'd say, stay on your school work, forget about your friends, get on your school, pay attention, do your best,” says Agundez.

Agundez says he's taken those words to heart and applied himself, and plans on picking up his high school diploma in June of 2012.

It’s those kinds of stories over the last two years that have not only boosted Sparks High's Graduation rate to 68 percent, but the entire district's rate to 70 percent in just two years.

A proud administrator Heath Morrison made the announcement at Sparks high's lunch room.

With graphs and charts he said he couldn't be more pleased with the news. But these achievements are also in light of massive state budget cuts.

Considering the school district did so well despite the cut in spending, will some lawmakers and others be tempted to cut even more?

“I hope it’s hey, I'm proud of what they are doing. How could they do more with additional resources, because they are proving they are using the resources they have,” says Morrison.

Sparks High was first with a 15% increase in graduation rates, followed by DaMonte Ranch High School with 13 percent.

The principal at DaMonte attributes the increase to thinking out of the box with classes after school and on weekends.

The district also revealed today, Washoe County is one of three finalists in the nation for The Council of Urban Boards of Education award.

The award recognizes one school district a year for school board governance and improved student achievement.

This year’s “CUBE” recipient will be announced next month.

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