“Every kid matters,” said Yukon High School Principal Melissa Barlow.
That’s why officials throughout the district have put an emphasis on lowering the drop-out rate in the Yukon School District.
The effort is paying dividends.
During the 2016-17 school year, 29 students were counted as having dropped out of school.
Barlow said that number is still too high, but it is a significant decrease from the previous year when 52 students dropped out.
Barlow said some of those who are counted as dropouts may be homeschooled or may have received their General Education Development certificate.
However, under the guidelines set by the Oklahoma Department of Education, they still are classified as having dropped out of school.
The goal, she said, is to make sure students stay in school and graduate.
“There has been a focus over the past three or four years. Every kid who is at risk is on our radar and we are looking to find what they are struggling with so we can get them the assistance they need,” she said.
Yukon offers a variety of alternative education programs that include the Yukon Alternative Learning Experience, virtual school, Project Connect, which is a partnership with Canadian Valley Technology Center, as well as the Canadian County Education Center located at the Gary E. Miller Juvenile Justice Center.
In addition, the school offers a student-assistance program, a fast track and credit recovery program and summer school.
Barlow said the school’s staff doesn’t give up without trying every alternative.
“Our decrease has come from a lot of hard work from our high school staff. We have put it at the forefront. We want to make sure that the kids are given every opportunity to be successful,” she said.
The addition of a counselor who works directly with at-risk students also has added to the district’s lower drop-out rate.
“I was pleased to see the reduction, but you still don’t want to see 29 there because that is 29 kids who have dropped out,” she said.
As for those who do leave the district, sometimes it is beyond the control of the school staff, Barlow said.
“Those 29 kids, we really did try to keep them and had contact with them,” she said. “A lot of times, it is something that is beyond our control. But it isn’t for lack of trying.”
This year, Barlow said there are students who are being monitored.
“We already have a list of kids who are at risk, and we are working with them,” she said.
She also said they try to focus on the individual student.
“To me, it is about the kid on that list and what can we do to help that kid. To me, it is about that one kid. It’s about finding what works for that kid,” she said.
“I want to save them all, but we know we can’t. It is about exhausting all efforts for every kid,” Barlow said.