Springfield Public Schools announce 'Stay in School' initiative - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Springfield Public Schools announce multi-year 'Stay in School' initiative

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Springfield School Superintendent Daniel Warwick announces the Stay in School initiative. Springfield School Superintendent Daniel Warwick announces the Stay in School initiative.
Stay in School campaign logo. Stay in School campaign logo.

For years, Springfield has had one of the highest non-graduation and dropout rates in the state of Massachusetts. A new cooperative initiative between the Springfield Public Schools and the United Way of the Pioneer Valley announced Monday aims to change those numbers.

Monday morning, Springfield Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick and a host of community leaders launched a new campaign called "Stay in School," which aims to increase the city's graduation rate to 77.4 percent by 2015. The 2012 graduation rate stood at 56.6 percent, up from 52.1 percent in 2011.

"The dropout rate is down and our school attendance over the last three or four years has gone up significantly but we need to do better, and in order to do better we need the whole community coming together behind this effort," Warwick said.

The campaign will directly reach out to students, parents and the community at large in an effort to raise awareness about the problem, highlight effective solutions and provide resources and support to students who are in danger of dropping out.

Speaking directly to the students in attendance, Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno pleaded for their assistance in making the program successful.

"I need you to be ambassadors for the city of Springfield," Sarno said.

"The future vitality of this city depends on us improving the Springfield public schools," Warwick said.

The campaign is aimed to improve attendance and in turn graduation rates throughout the city of homes.

"Our goal is not only to graduate them but graduate them college and career ready," said Warwick. "But our present graduation rate is not acceptable and we want to improve that."

The initiative is seeking to increase the number of graduates citywide by 12 percent, to reduce the number of drop outs by 10 percent and to reduce the number of students who are chronically absent by 5 percent by the year 2015.

"You're not going to regret staying in school," said Putnam High School Senior Ariana Williams. "You are not going to regret going on to college, and filling our scholarships and doing your homework. It's definitely going to benefit you."

Williams spoke at the launch of the campaign of the importance of staying in school and why she chooses to lead by example.

"What keeps me motivated is I love to learn and I know that dropping out would be not only a big disappointment for myself but for my family," Williams said.

Another person fighting to improve the graduation rate is Dolly Ortiz. Ortiz is a mother of four who dropped out of high school and recently went back to school to get her GED.

"It was really important for me that they know that they need to work hard in school because it was not easy for me at all," said Ortiz.

She told those in attendance why she wants her kids and others to stay in school.

"I'm very honest with them because if you don't tell them the consequences of whatever action they might make, they are just going to make the mistakes anyway so I'd rather they learn from mine than commit their own," Ortiz said.

Public service announcements will be produced in both English and Spanish to reach out to the entire community.

CBS 3 Springfield is the exclusive English language television sponsor of the Stay in School campaign.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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