Principals, counselors, and staff from 38 high schools across West Virginia were recognized Tuesday at the West Virginia Culture Center for their schools’ efforts to inform students of higher education opportunities after graduation. The schools receiving the Champion recognition this year, locally, are: Cameron High School, Hundred High School and Tyler Consolidated High School.
The “Champion of College Access and Success” recognition awards are presented annually by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) to select schools that go above and beyond to help students and their families plan for education or training after high school. This is the largest number of schools to ever receive the honor.
Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education, said staff at high schools across the state work diligently to help their students reach higher; however, the schools recognized this year have exceeded expectations in helping their students understand the importance of post-secondary education and the opportunities that come with a degree or training beyond a high school diploma.
With so many educational leaders gathered, and with the statewide college-going rate dropping to 45.9 percent for last year’s graduating class, Chancellor Tucker engaged attendees in a discussion around their students’ unique challenges around pursuing higher education and how their schools are working to overcome them. The conversation highlighted ideas that the Commission can work to share and scale statewide.
“It was great to hear how these counselors, administrators, teachers and staff at our 38 Champion schools work hard to foster a future-focused culture within the school community,” she said. “It is so important that we share ideas and work together to help students pursue their academic goals and ensure our state’s workforce remains competitive. I want to thank these schools for going the extra mile to help students and their families discover the many post-secondary education and career pathways available for students in West Virginia.”
For high schools to be considered a Champion of College Access and Success, they must participate in three planning milestone events during the school year:
- College Application and Exploration Week
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Campaign
- College Decision Day Event
Each of these milestones has specific components to help students in West Virginia continue their education after high school. The Commission, together with the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia (CTCS), provides financial aid and college application information, training and support to high schools, as well as event-planning assistance. In 2018, Gov. Jim Justice set the goal to have 60 percent of the state’s workforce prepared with a formal credential beyond high school by 2030. That statewide campaign, known as “West Virginia’s Climb,” is a collaborative effort among the Commission and CTCS, the West Virginia Department of Education, WorkForce West Virginia, and the private sector.