Pershing County School District Reaches 100 Percent Graduation Rate
Every senior graduated that started high school there as a freshman.
Preliminary graduation rates are in from 2017, and Nevada will break a record if the numbers hold true with 80.55 percent of its students getting their diploma. Pershing County School District saw an increase of 16.67 percent. Every senior graduated that started high school there as a freshman.
"It's something we kind of expect because all of the students here work really hard and our teachers really push us to be the best we can, and pursue our dreams," Maggie Baker, PCHS Senior said.
The class of 2018 hopes to accomplish the same thing last year's seniors did, and they expect that 100 percent of the class will graduate for the second straight year.
"That's amazing to have every senior student graduate," Owen Bake, PCHS Senior said. "You don't have 'Oh, that one kid didn't walk. Everybody made it."
Last year's class had 48 students and 42 plan on walking across the stage to get their diplomas in the spring. Students say the smaller class sizes help them learn and flourish.
"It's just such a small school, so we get a lot of one-on-one time with teachers and they really just help us a lot," Baker said.
Lovelock is a small town with small classes, but that means there is very little room for error.
"If we lose two kids in a 40-class, that's an eight percent drop," Tom Brooks, PCHS Principal said. "So it's really tough. So, you have to keep after them. You have to know them. You have to know their families. You have to know what's going on in their lives."
It is that familiarity that many teachers and students say helps their success rate, and it goes much further than the classroom.
"Math and English and reading and writing are important but what probably promotes more success with a student is the connection that we make with students on a personal level," Shauna Bake, PCHS School Based Mental Health Grant Manager said.
Project Aware is a program that is geared to give social and emotional support to students who are having a tough time dealing with the stress that comes along with high school. Teachers say the community is another big factor in their success. Many Lovelock residents support athletics and other extracurricular activities, and donate money for important needs like technology.
"When we have fundraisers, they're buying t-shirts, helping to pay for computers in our classrooms, and each of those factors improves my ability to teach my students in the classroom," Coni Jo Brinkerhoff, PCHS English Teacher said.
Pershing County School District also has a unique schedule. They got rid of the five-day school week in favor of a Mon-Thurs schedule with longer hours. Administrators and teachers say that has been successful for academics, especially for student-athletes. The teams travel at least 100 miles for their closest league games.
"At first, I was a little worried about it," Brinkerhoff said. "You think about squishing five days into four but we have a little bit longer in the classroom those four days. Then in a small school, we can have as many as 50 percent of our class gone to a sporting event, and then we're having to spend a lot of extra time making up or maybe not being able to teach at all."
Owen Bake plays on the PCHS Mustangs football team. He says having Fridays off helps him in several ways both on and off the field.
"It just gives me time to sleep in on Fridays, get ready for the games, do homework if I need to," Bake said. "I can always stay on top of it, just mentally prepare myself."
PCHS traditionally has a high-graduation rate, which some would expect from a school with less than 50 seniors. Shauna Bake says the expectations are just as high, though, and sometimes higher.
"It's not only what we expect of them, academically, but what we expect from them athletically and as student leaders and providing community service," Shauna Bake said. "So, our kids wear many hats."
"We don't have a lot of distractions in this community and we're very school based," Brooks said. "When you put special programs in like our Aware Program, our Credit Recovery programs, our Gear Up programs and things like that where the kids can come along and feel successes along the way so they never get detoured, then they can see and focus on that final goal of graduation."
"Every school should want to strive to have 100 percent of kids graduate and I think it's really awesome that our school can do it," Baker said.
Six other Nevada rural school districts had double-digit increases in graduation rates. Lander County had a 92.42 percent graduation rate and 93.24 percent of Lincoln County's seniors graduated.