Every once in a while a local news story makes you stop and say, “Aw, way to go,” instead of, “Everything’s going to hell!” Yesterday the sweet scoop that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had just named the winner of the spring Mayor’s Attendance Campaign competition caught my eye, and tugged a little at my emotions. (Rawlings-Blake made her announcement with ceremonious support from Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Andrés Alonso, President & CEO of Family League Jonathon Rondeau, and other dignitaries.) Who won and why? And why does it matter?
W. E. B. Du Bois High School’s ninth grade class snagged the award “by increasing their average daily attendance for the period from March 1 to April 5 from 63.42 percent average daily attendance last year to 74.05 percent average daily attendance this year — an increase of nearly 11 percentage points,” according to the Family League of Baltimore.
“If you keep coming to school, you will be better prepared for the ever-changing adult world. But improving attendance is not something we are putting on you alone — it is a team effort,” explained Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Through a strong partnership between the city, the school system, and the Family League of Baltimore — working together with teachers, principals, students, parents, and the community — we are helping students across Baltimore realize the importance of attendance.”
Ninth grade is a pivotal time, and better attendance increases a child’s chances of graduating from high school. A study of Baltimore City ninth graders discovered that more than 80 percent of students who made it to school at least 95 percent of the time went on to graduate high school; for ninth graders who attended less than 70 percent of the time, graduation rate was lower than 20 percent. Hence, the Mayor’s Attendance Campaign inaugurated last year.
Select students will participate in a dance party featuring a 92Q DJ, treats, and a photo booth, on April 16th at the Grille at Peerce’s in Phoenix. (Not too shabby.) “The remaining students will participate in a pizza party at the school,” according to press materials. (All the more reason to come to class.) Other perks: The Family League of Baltimore City will award W.E.B. Du Bois a $1,000 grant. Winning students score Under Armour gear.
“School officials have taken the attendance message seriously and are engaged in a number of activities to encourage and enforce school attendance,” according to the Family League’s release. “Students enjoy M.A.N.I.C. Mondays, where they can choose from a variety of elective activities, such as sewing, drumming, yoga, dance, and robotics. Outstanding attendance earns students Panther Bucks, which they can use in the school store to buy clothing, supplies, and other school gear.
“‘Everyone has a stake in our children’s success, and everyone should be involved in making sure that our students get to school — on time, every day,’ said Rondeau of the Family League.”
The Mayor’s Attendance Campaign is a collaboration between Baltimore City Public Schools, the Mayor’s Youth Cabinet, and the Family League of Baltimore City, along with Under Armour.
Congratulations to W.E.B. Du Bois’s ninth grade smarties! Keep on.
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