Project Graduation Encourages Students to Looks to the Future
By LYDIA BERGLAR
Started in 2012, Project Graduation is an initiative by the Dade County school system to encourage students and their parents to recognize the importance of staying in school. By helping students envision the momentous occasion of high school graduation, the project provides something to look forward to throughout years of schooling.
Tinena Bice, counselor at Dade Elementary School, said, “In 2012, we realized that we really needed to do something because we weren’t pleased with the graduation rate. As part of Project Graduation, we keep parents informed about the importance of keeping their students in school.”
The project starts with kindergarteners at both Dade Elementary and Davis Elementary. Bice explained that they inform parents of kindergarteners of their student’s high school graduation year. “We tell them that we’re excited their child is starting school and that our goal is to help students reach graduation, prepared for the world.”
The significant Project Graduation event for kindergarteners is a tour of the high school. Bice says, “We give them the opportunity to go to the high school. After touring classrooms, they get to walk across the graduation stage.”
Bice explained that each Dade Elementary class has a “step up” day when they tour the next grade level to become familiar with the rooms and teachers they will interact with on a daily basis the next year.
Bice and Lindsey Beavers (counselor at Davis Elementary) also explained that fifth grade students at both schools have a transition day where they become familiar with Dade Middle School. “We have a transition activity where they go to the middle school for an orientation day, Then, the ninth grade students also have a transition day to the high school,” siad Bice.
This year, the Class of 2035’s field trip to DCHS was on Dec. 2. Students toured Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) classrooms, spending a short while in each room to see the projects that older students were working on.
Beavers says, “I know a fifth grader at Davis who remembers being in kindergarten and going on the field trip to the high school. She always remembers her graduating class number because of that trip.”
Beavers continued, “This field trip gives them something to look forward to. It leaves a huge impression on them to see the older students. Our kindergartens really enjoyed the media center where high schoolers were doing the news. They also enjoyed the cooking room, and they loved getting to see Santa at the end.”
Tonya Gatlin who leads work-based learning at DCHS discussed ways the high schoolers served these younger students, saying, “We
have seven CTAE pathways, and the kindergartners visited all seven. Our high school students put together a little something for them in each classroom. Mechatronics used the 3D printer to make Class of 2035 keychains. The business classroom showed them the computers. The construction class made ornaments for the students. In our agricultural class, they brought in farm animals like goats.”
Beavers added that petting the goats in the agricultural class was a highlight amongst the kindergarteners.
Gatlin continued, “Our student officers helped facilitate the tour, and the school administrators met the kindergarteners. In total, about 150 students came on the tour.”
In addition to the fifth graders at the elementary schools, some high schoolers also remember this field trip. According to Gatlin, “We had some high school students who remembered participating. They love to see these kindergarteners coming over. CTAE is what keeps a lot of our students showing up to school every day. Seeing these options opens [the younger students’ eyes] up early on to what they could do when they’re in high school.”