Journey to High School Graduation

Currently, in Jefferson County, nearly 1 out of every 3 kids who enter high school as a freshman will not make it through their senior year. For some youth, it takes more than hard work and luck to propel them towards high school graduation because many negative forces can converge to push them back towards dropping out. And since research shows 75% of prison inmates don’t have a high school diploma, donning that high school cap and gown is imperative.

Some of the circumstances that can negatively influence students include:

•Under-performing schools
•Living in poverty
•Parents who lack time and/or ability to encourage them
•Too much unstructured, unsupervised time
•Making bad decisions about drugs and alcohol

But, regardless of a kid’s situation and the impact of these negative forces, a kid’s own resiliency supported by interventions from the community can make a difference.

For example, we can illustrate the importance of high school graduation with the game many of us grew up playing: “The Game of Life.” Today it can help demonstrate the ups and downs of a child’s path to success – based on real-world situations, consequences and results.

In the Game of Life starting block, three players start in a different place in “The Game of Life” based on scenarios they are given that indicate where they went to middle school, because this factor profoundly affects their chances of succeeding in high school. Continuing on throughout the game, the players are assigned situational experiences that affect their progress, such as choosing to smoke pot after school or having structured homework time, including some aspects of quality Out-of-School Time (OST) programs. Players progress forward or backward depending on these factors that either advance their success toward high school graduation or set them back toward likely dropping out.

Just like in real life, only two of the three participants in the game end up graduating on time prepared for college, work and life. High school graduation is a major milestone to success in life, and these statistics support why Metro United Way has pledged to raise the graduation rate by the year 2018 and encourage all youth to graduate on time!


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