Community Kicks Off Graduate! Highline Movement to Raise Graduation Rate
Superintendent Announces another Hike in Graduation Rate to More than 73%
What do all the orange buttons and Graduate! Highline t-shirts and signs cropping up across the Highline school district mean? To local leaders, alumni, staff, students, parents, and passionate school supporters, it means one thing: The community is going to bat in a big way for the students of Highline Public Schools.
Graduate! Highline is a grassroots community movement with the goal of igniting widespread support to send Highline’s already-rising graduation rate to new heights. The movement is modeled after the Graduate Tacoma effort credited with helping to increase Tacoma’s graduation rate from 55 percent to 82.6 percent over the past five years.
Today, Graduate! Highline officially kicked off with a pep-rally style event at the Matt Griffin YMCA in SeaTac, featuring the Global Connections High School band and a choir of third grade students from Cedarhurst Elementary. Superintendent Susan Enfield gave her annual State of Our Schools address, announcing an increase in the graduation rate for the second year in a row. Preliminary figures show the 2016 graduation rate at 73.5 percent. That number is expected to rise by the time the data is final later this fall.
“I am proud to report our graduation rates in Highline have risen again this year,” said Enfield. “The trajectory is moving in the right direction, but we are not satisfied. We are deeply committed to at least 95% of our students graduating, and we recognize it will take the entire community to make that happen. I am inspired and grateful to see our community come together to show our students that we believe in them.”
Among the community members, elected officials, and celebrity guests gathered for the kickoff was Roger Levesque of the Seattle Sounders FC.
“At the Sounders FC, we’re always up for a challenge, which is why we’re really excited to support the Graduate! Highline initiative and the ambitious goal of a 95% districtwide high school graduation rate. Let Graduate! Highline be the community’s rallying cry to encourage each student to explore new opportunities and to enable the next generation of Highline students to reach their full potential,” said Levesque, director of community outreach for the Sounders.
The message from Graduate! Highline supporters is that there is a role for every community member to play in supporting Highline students, whether it be volunteering in a school, mentoring a student, opening your business to job shadows or internships, posting a window sign, or simply wearing a Graduate! Highline button to send the message that graduation is important to the community.
“Our goal is to inspire a community-wide effort around our students. We want to rally community, civic, faith, business, and philanthropic leaders to support our community’s young people in large and small ways. When kids are fully supported, they will succeed,” said JD Hill, executive director of the Matt Griffin YMCA and head of Graduate! Highline Leadership Team. “Think of the impact we can have when people come together in one collective effort supporting our students!”
Visit www.graduatehighline.com to join the movement and get more information. Be part of the rising tide of support, from individuals to small businesses to some of our region’s biggest employers, to ensure all Highline Public Schools students graduate ready for college and career.
Graduate! Highline Leadership Team:
- Ray Conner, The Boeing Company
- Bernie Dorsey, Board Member, Highline Public Schools
- Geri Fain, Highline Public Schools administrator (retired)
- J.D. Hill, Matt Griffin YMCA
- Shaunta Hyde, Alaska Airlines
- Scott Lautman, Alaska Airlines, Highline Schools Foundation
- Caroline Maillard, The Boeing Company
- Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Sounders FC, Highline Schools Foundation
- Chris Craig, City of Burien
- David Sabey, Sabeycorp
- Danielle Tilden
- Chuck Tuman, Yes! for Highline
- Pat Thompson, YES! Foundation
- Jeff Wagnitz, Highline College