Seniors hope early graduation motions are granted

Steamboat Springs High School students plan to work, earn money for college

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— Thirteen Steamboat Springs High School seniors are expected to receive a motion tonight from the Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education allowing them to graduate at midyear.

"Most of them are trying to earn money for college," Steamboat Springs High School Principal Dave Schmid said.

Some students also will attend a college or a trade school next semester or have landed a job in the field they want to pursue.

Early graduating senior Lindsay Dettwiler said she is staying in town and working to save money for college, most likely for Colorado State University.

"I'm looking forward for a little break before I start all over again," she said.

Dettwiler has worked at the restaurant L'apogee for four months and plans to stay at the job until school begins next fall. She also will do a little snowboarding with her extra time.

She said most of her friends are older, so losing the social connection at school isn't a major issue.

"I have a few friends I'll be missing," she said of some of her high school buddies.

Steamboat Springs High School's career and college counselor, Gayle Dudley, said like Dettwiler, most of the students who graduate early have older friends and don't have concrete social connections at the school. All of the early graduates also are looking at their futures a little more closely than most other students.

"They seem to know more about where they want to go," she said.

The school also helps the teen-agers with their decisions about graduation and the future, Dudley added.

The seniors with enough credit to graduate at midterm are identified in September. From there, the ones who want to receive their diploma early write an essay explaining what they plan to do if they are allowed to graduate in January. After the teachers and administrators examine the essays, the students endure a half-hour interview with principals, the superintendent of schools and counselors to discuss if early graduation is appropriate.

If satisfied with the students' foresights, the students are recommended for a motion from the school board to allow the students to receive their diplomas early.

School board member Paul Fisher said the process is a good one. The students who really want to graduate early have thought about their future, are taking advantage of the district's counselors and are headed in a positive direction toward some sort of secondary education or training.

"By the time they get to us, it's pretty much a done deal," he said.

Thirteen is a high number for midterm graduates last year there were six. Dudley said she suspects it's a reflection of the 2002 senior class.

"The senior class is different than what we've seen in the past," she said.

They are good students and good kids, but the class doesn't have the connection to the school and school-related activities that previous classes had, she said.

However, the high number also reflects the high percent of Steamboat Springs High School graduates who move on to higher education or training. Out of the 140 seniors this year, 80 already are looking into postsecondary education and training options, Dudley said.

That's good news, Dudley added, because roughly 80 percent of jobs in the work force today require some form training after high school.

The Steamboat Springs School Board meets at 6:30 p.m. today in the George P. Sauer Human Service Center boardroom.

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