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For many 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. Nearly 75% of all inmates in State and Federal prison systems are high school drop outs. 18.5% of all unemployment recipients have not completed their high school education. Sadly, by the end of this day, 7,000 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.

Source: Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022
Education Level Lifetime Weeks Worked 2022 Weekly Wage (Median)* Estimated Lifetime Earnings
Less than a high school diploma 2080 $682 $1,418,560
High School Graduate 2080 $853 $1,774,240
Some College - No Degree 2080 $935 $1,944,800
Bachelor's Degree 2080 $1,432 $2,978,560
Professional Degree 2080 $2,080 $4,326,400

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 just under 1.6 million dollars over a 40-year career. That is $39,000 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.

We have instituted programming that is designed to achieve this end. We have a "freshman only" orientation day at the start of the school year. We implemented Advisory Periods 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 continue to add new career pathways within our vocational departments that have resulted in excellent "real world" opportunities for our students.

For example, our Construction Science program provides 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 award-winning coffee shop, "Common Grounds," is a student-run enterprise that equips students to manage their own businesses. From the "point of sale" system used to manage purchases, to the advertising and marketing of its products, all aspects of the operation are determined by our students.

Furthermore, with the passage of our bond issue, the new CTE Innovation Center, scheduled to open in late fall of 2024, will provide students with expanded opportunities in the study of Career and Technical Education. Our new Innovation Center will be home to our career pathways in Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources; Architecture & Construction; Arts; Bio-Medical; A/V & Communication; Hospitality & Tourism, and; Information Technology. The facilities are designed to promote the collaborative and creative processes found in today's work environments.

Finally, we are thrilled to host the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Programs at Washburn Rural High School. For students seeking challenge, these rigorous options provide students with outstanding preparation for life after high school.

Whatever the future holds, rest assured that the staff at WRHS is committed to providing your child with an exceptional educational experience. Let us know how we can help!