09/21/12 — WEMCHS receives state honor

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WEMCHS receives state honor

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 21, 2012 1:46 PM

For the third year in a row, Wayne Early/Middle College High School has been recognized by the state for having a 100 percent graduation rate.

But the school has actually held that distinction longer than the past three years.

Lee Johnson, principal at the school housed on the Wayne Community College campus since it opened in 2006, said the only exception was the first year when, for reasons she can no longer recall, one student did not walk across the stage with his classmates.

Other than that, though, the school has maintained a 100 percent rate of graduating students.

Wayne County Public Schools introduced the concept, allowing students to attend college classes while receiving their high school requirements in a smaller setting. At graduation time, numerous students are awarded both high school and two-year college diplomas.

Initially, the school opened with just 63 juniors and seniors, adding a class of freshmen the following year. Enrollment has grown to over 270 students.

The Class of 2011 was its first four-year class to graduate.

This week, it was one of 28 schools in the state recognized by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for the 100 percent graduation rate status for the 2011-12 school year.

In addition to Mrs. Johnson, Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent, and Rick Pridgen, Board of Education member, attended the award luncheon in Raleigh on Wednesday.

WEMCH has been able to set itself apart from other high schools across the state year after year, officials said.

"By allowing students to attend college classes, while receiving a more personalized education through smaller high school class sizes, WEMCH helps keep students engaged in their education so they can successfully graduate from high school," Taylor said.

This year, the state's 2011-12 graduation rate was 80.4 percent. The district's graduation rate rose to 80.1 percent, compared to 74.6 percent the previous year. The graduation rate measures the percentage of ninth graders who graduate from high school within four years.

Eleven school districts and 35 high schools were recognized for having the highest graduation rates among all districts and schools in the state at the same luncheon.