Socorro High School 2021 graduation,
File photo

Socorro High School’s graduation rate improved more than 12 percent in the 2020-2021 school year.

The high school had a 78.4 percent graduation rate in 2021, up from 65.9 percent in 2020. The graduation rate had gone from the low 70s down to 67 or 68 percent, and then dipped even lower in 2020—due in part to the pandemic. With a small student population, even a few students not graduating has a significant impact on the graduation rate.

“We’re pretty pleased with the way it turned out,” said Superintendent Ron Hendrix. “There were a few kids that were going to just quit, then the high school people were amazing, grabbing those kids saying, ‘You can do this.’”

Several students also opted to get GEDs, which count toward the graduation rate if they’re reported back to the school.

Math was an especially challenging subject for students across grade levels who were studying remotely in 2020 and 2021, said Hendrix. When students came back to in person learning in the spring, many of the high school teachers offered tutoring during their prep periods.

“I just think there’s a lot of caring educators up there at the high school that really take personal interest in the kids.”

The district is working to keep improving the graduation rate. New social and emotional learning initiatives may help with that effort.

“Kids that want to drop out usually have some issues that are pretty big issues for a kid,” Hendrix said.

Gear Up programming may also push students to finish high school. The federally funded program guides kids toward higher education or a post high school degree or certificate by helping them find a career path and start mapping out a future plan.

The program brings in different professionals to talk to students and encourages college visits. Two weeks ago, Homeland Security employees talked to the high school students about career options in cybersecurity, the military and law enforcement.

“That pushes them toward graduating because it’s mapping out their future,” said Hendrix.