SPRINGFIELD, Mass.(WWLP) – More than 100 Springfield residents took part in the national Stay in School Campaign Thursday. It’s the basis of a new project to boost graduation rates in Springfield.
“Without a high school diploma you can’t go on to trade school, the service, you can’t get a job almost anywhere,” said Sylvia Dehaas-Phillips, the Senior Vice President of the United Way Pioneer Valley.
In 2013, just 55% of Springfield high school students actually graduated. At the summit, parents, students and community leaders identified key issues setting students back, starting with lack of after-school activities. “If there are programs, it’s limited in scope, or they’re too cost prohibitive to have the students participate,” said Gianna Allentuck, a Springfield school councilor.
One woman told 22News some parents just have too much on their plate to give their children the needed support. “Anytime you have added stressers of having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, it’s going to make it even more difficult,” said Vicky Gruneiro, a Springfield parent.
According to the better high school’s website, 9th grade is a “make it or break it” year. That’s why Thursday’s summit focused on middle school success, and hearing what issues those students were facing. “If someone’s bullying you, that definitely takes a toll on your education,” said Sydney Gruneiro, a 7th grade Springfield Student.
Aside from bullying, failing grades and poor attendance are red flags for students at-risk of dropping out.