As the district prepares students to achieve their goals, officials say its message of “Two Graduations” has taken on added dimensions.
The Class of 2017 graduation ceremonies on June 16 at the four high schools of the Lenape Regional High School District are set to reflect and honor the academic achievement of its seniors over the past four years, as well as the pride and traditions of the schools, communities and families.
Among those traditions, district officials say the Lenape District is proud of its strong tradition of preparing students for college and career success.
As the district focuses on preparing students to achieve their goals in the ever-changing world of today, its message to students of “Two Graduations” has taken on added dimensions, both district-wide and in each school — Lenape, Shawnee, Cherokee and Seneca.
According to district officials, the goal of the “Two Graduations” initiative is to show students what they should work toward and to help them articulate their visions for their futures and their plans for achieving their college and career goals.
So while the caps fly high on June 16, district officials want the students’ academic journeys to continue on paths they mapped and prepared for throughout high school.
Through talking with students across the district, Superintendent Carol Birnbohm learned that students had a good grasp of district messages supported by images, like the Upstander posters in the schools that show students of different roles standing together, or the safe driving message of Heads Up, Eyes Forward, with its logo on car magnets around the county.
The conclusion: district officials said “Two Graduations” needed a visual that showed its message.
After a development process involving input from staff and students across all schools, district officials said the “Two Graduations” posters started appearing district-wide.
Each poster displays the black and white logo of a graduation cap, with the centerpiece featuring a photo of a different district graduate, in his or her professional attire (chef’s whites, police chief uniform, doctor scrubs, etc.).
The names of the graduate’s high school and college appear next to the photo, along with the years he or she graduated.
“The posters say to our students, ‘This can be you too!’” Birnbohm said.
According to district officials, the schools have worked together to reinforce this message.
For example, each school’s end of-year Academic Awards Ceremony recognizes seniors’ post-secondary plans by showing photos of them in their college gear or having them proudly declare what colleges they will attend.
In addition, each school’s principals and building team have created and used their own school-specific strategies to make this message powerful for their students.
Lenape High School, for instance, has developed College Hall, a hallway in the heart of the school that includes pennants from each post-secondary institution in which recent Lenape alumni have enrolled and a national map displaying colleges and universities where former students now pursue their second graduations.
District officials and students say the positive impact of College Hall is palpable for anyone who walks it.
“College Hall has brought me inspiration and variety, allowing me to broaden my horizons during my college search,” Lenape senior Rebecca Agbaje said.
Lenape principal Tony Cattani echoed those sentiments.
“Our goal of College Hall is to celebrate our students’ achievement of pursuing post-secondary education while encouraging our underclassmen to make the most of the unlimited opportunities available to them at Lenape,” Cattani said.
District officials say the Lenape District has taken many steps in its academic programming to enable this success.
It changed its “Level 3” courses to “College-Prep” and re-wrote its curricula not only into the curriculum model of Understanding by Design, with its focus on enduring understandings and skills that students carry with them, but also in such a way that the same curriculum applies to all levels of any particular course.
Furthermore, the district upgraded its course selection process by including all courses at all levels on its course selection sheets and by opening access to honors courses through removing grade prerequisites.
The district offers students SAT prep courses throughout the school year and summer and has expanded summer and after school enrichment programs for students seeking academic support.
The district’s Two Graduations webpage at www.lrhsd.org/TwoGraduations showcases many aspects of this initiative, including the Two Graduations posters of profiled graduates and the ways each school celebrates its seniors’ post-secondary plans.
The site also shares links to college and career resources located on the schools’ websites.
This site will continually add features as the Two Graduations initiative grows.