Over the last several years, there has been considerable talk about the importance of obtaining a high quality education. Scarcely a day goes by that the enormous costs of failing to educate a learned citizenry are not mentioned and lamented in the news. The statistics are quite startling—consider these, for example. Seventy-five percent of all inmates in State prison systems are high school drop outs. Fifty-nine percent of all prisoners in the Federal Prison System do not hold high school diplomas. Sixty percent of all unemployment recipients have not completed their high school education. Sadly, by the end of this day, 3,300 young people will have dropped out of high school across the country and, in doing so, severely limited their futures. It is, indeed, a bleak picture. So why is it, then, that "faceless" statistics like these rarely mean much more to us than a sad epitaph on someone else's personal history? Generally, it is because a vivid enough portrait has not been painted related to how such numbers impact us directly. Let me try to do that for you now. Consider the following table which illustrates the average lifetime earnings one can expect based on their level of educational attainment.
|Education Level||Lifetime Hrs. Worked||2016 Hourly Wage (Mean)*||Estimated Lifetime Earnings|
|Less than a high school diploma||83,200||$12.97||$1,079,104|
|High School Graduate||83,200||$17.45||$1,451,840|
|Some College - No Degree||83,200||$19.75||$1,643,200|
Source: Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fourth Quarter 2016
Does this help to bring things into focus for you? I shared this information with our freshmen at the beginning of the school year, and I can assure you that some eyes were opened! The difference in earning power between a high school dropout and a college graduate is slightly more than 1.3 million dollars over a forty-year career. That is $33,404 a year!
With so much of the future success of our young people hinging on obtaining a high school diploma, we take our responsibility to graduate every single student quite seriously at Washburn Rural. Not only does this imply assisting struggling students, but it also means making sure that our course offerings are cutting edge and of high interest to our student body.
Over the last nine years, we have instituted programming that is designed to achieve this end. You may recall that we implemented a "freshmen only" orientation day at the start of the school year during the 2008 school year. Additionally, we implemented Advisory Periods seven years ago in order to help students make stronger connections to staff and programming in the building, to grant greater access for assistance from teachers during the school day, and ultimately, to increase student success. As additional evidence of our commitment to students, the Renaissance Program was restructured to not only recognize outstanding academic achievement, but also to provide incentives for grade improvement and perfect attendance. Moreover, we have implemented several new career pathways within our vocational departments that have resulted in excellent "real world" opportunities for our students.
Our Construction Science program partners with Topeka Habitat for Humanity in an effort to provide students with the skills and technical expertise needed to be able to go to work directly out of high school if that is what they choose to do. Additionally, our coffee shop, "Common Grounds," is a student-run business in partnership with PT's Coffee Roasting Company.
From the design of the store's "point of sale" system, to the advertising used in promoting its products, our students are learning the skills needed to successfully manage a business.
Five years ago, we were thrilled to launch the International Baccalaureate Program which provides students with expanded opportunities for academic rigor and college preparation. In time, it is our hope that a large segment of our student body takes advantage of this world-class curriculum and, in doing so, better prepare themselves for the world in which they will eventually live—and lead.
Finally, we were pleased to establish our own Air Force Junior ROTC Unit three years ago. We worked for several years toward the establishment of such a unit and are excited about the growth of the program which is expected to be well over 100 for next year.
Whatever the future holds, rest assured that the staff at Washburn Rural High School is committed to providing your child an exceptional educational experience. Let us know how we can help!