ROMNEY — There are only 2 months left in a school year that was unlike any other, and at Hampshire High School, in the realm of academics and discipline, it has become a numbers game.
During their work session Thursday, the school board expressed some worries surrounding potential dropouts, failures and discipline at HHS, and principal Mike Dufrene and assistant principal Adam Feazell provided some numbers to allay the concerns and illustrate what’s happening academically on Sunrise Summit.
Over the last few years, the graduation rate at HHS has hung around 85 percent.
At the end of the 1st semester, there were 41 seniors in danger of not graduating, and while that number will inevitably change with the most recent grades added into the system, Dufrene says plans are in place to help those students get the credits they need. With a graduation coach, class meetings, constant communication attempts and the addition of the 5th block at the high school, most of the students in danger have the opportunity to turn it around and graduate come May.
Some board members also expressed concern over the dropout rate. Because this year has been totally unique in its structure thanks to Covid, there are some students who haven’t been in the school building for over a year.
“I don’t care what it is,” Dufrene remarked. “If you take a year off of anything and try to come back to it, it’s not easy.”
Superintendent Jeff Pancione made an observation about the students who have been attending school in person and those who have been participating in remote learning.
“Most of the kids that are failing are virtual,” he said simply. “They’re just checked out.”
Board president Debbie Champ offered her thoughts, saying that she believes students who have jobs are in a tricky situation and have a choice to make when it comes to dropping out.
“I think a lot of kids drop out because they have to work,” she said. “We’re helping dig that hole because we aren’t accommodating them.”
The good news?
The dropout rate for this school year is a great deal lower than last year’s. The 2019-2020 school year saw 30 dropouts at HHS, while this year that number has fallen to 22.
The other good news is the change in discipline issues at the high school.
“It’s just a better environment,” Dufrene said about improvements that have been made to the look of the school, and he cited the new look of the bathrooms as an example.
Pancione echoed Dufrene’s assessment, adding, “The school is brighter, fresher, cleaner.”
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to discipline issues at HHS. Last year, there were 94 in-school suspensions, and this year there have been 4. As far as out-of-school suspension, last year the high school saw 133 cases and this year that number dropped drastically to only 9.
Board vice-president Ed Morgan offered his reasoning on the lower numbers this year compared to last year: “I just think the kids are glad to be back.”
With lower numbers of discipline issues and new opportunities for credit recovery of students in danger of failure or retention, there’s a climate of hope on Sunrise Summit.
“If they have hope, they have a chance,” Dufrene said.