The classes of 2020 in Cherokee County high schools may have had to have delayed and socially distanced graduation ceremonies, but they graduated at a rate that was the highest in years, officials said Tuesday.
The 90.3-percent graduation rate was 3.4 percent higher than the county-wide rate of 86.9 percent for the class of 2019, school system spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.
“This news is yet another accomplishment our seniors achieved despite the challenges that 2020 put in their path,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “I’m so proud of each of them, and the teachers and staff and families who guided them and supported them throughout their educational journey.”
The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of schools in March and the class of 2020 saw their studies shift online, along with the suspension of extracurricular activities, including proms. Graduations were delayed until summer and followed safety protocols to guard against spread of the virus.
The Georgia Department of Education released graduation statistics Tuesday. All six Cherokee County high schools reported higher graduation rates, with Creekview High School reporting the top rate of 96.2 percent.
“The rate is the second highest among metro Atlanta counties and also continues to exceed the statewide average, topping the state’s class of 2020 rate of 83.8 percent,” Jacoby said in a written statement. Cherokee County has grown its graduation rate by 18 percentage points in the past eight years.
Hightower said the system is continuing to look for new ways to help students graduate on time and “future ready.”
One new step taken toward that goal this year is the partnership with Mountain Education Charter High School to offer an improved evening high school program, with a focus on providing its students with mentoring to help them.
“Another initiative underway is the development of a permanent Virtual Academy choice in CCSD, which is being planned to launch next school year initially for Grades 9-12,” Hightower said in a statement.
“We are dedicated to increasing our graduation rate to as close to 100 percent as possible,” Highower said. “We are committed to the challenge of preparing our students for limitless success.”