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Most members of the Crook County High School Class of 2017 are attending college or trade school

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County High School graduates from the Class of 2017 enjoy their big day.

Most of Crook County High School's 2017 graduates are moving on to college, or some type of post high school education, according to recent data.

Of the 166 students who received a diploma this past June, 116 reported plans to move on to college, with 35 attending a four-year school. Another five said they will attend a trade school, and nine others said they are enlisting in the military. Another 22, meanwhile, planned to enter the workforce, leaving just 11 undecided.

CCHS Assistant Principal Joel Hoff said that the numbers represent only a slight uptick in the number of students moving forward with post-high school education, as such plans have become the norm in recent years.

"I would tie that to our mission statement, which is 'Graduating all students college and career ready,'" he said. "So it's great to see this many kids graduating and taking the next step, whether that's going to college or going on to find a career or job in the workforce."

Hoff attributes the high percentage of students advancing their education on a few programs, as well as some efforts within the high school.

"The Oregon Promise is a program that will pay for students' first year of community college if they meet certain requirements," he said. "That helps get rid of a hurdle, finances, which normally keeps kids out of college."

The ASPIRE program (Access to Student Programs in Reach of Everyone) is another reason Hoff highlights that helps steer students toward education after high school.

"It is our college readiness coordinator who works with kids on partnering with families," he said, noting that the program enables school staff to work alongside parents and students as they apply for college and scholarships, an unknown journey that can be challenging.

High school staff has also pushed a culture at CCHS that encourages students to develop a plan for after they graduate. This includes a program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination).

"One component of that is that college-going culture," Hoff explained. "As you walk around the high school, you will see the different colleges and who is going where, so people can be proud and be like, 'Oh, I know that person, and he went to college — so can I.'"

On a wall in the high school commons, a student can find a flag for approximately 20 different colleges that students from CCHS have attended.

However, Hoff is quick to stress that college is not the only path that students can or should take.

"We just want kids to have a plan for what they want to do," he said. "We will get just as excited if a kid goes on and becomes a plumber or an electrician — goes to a trade school. We want kids to be thinking about their future before they leave high school."

As they move forward, school staff is hoping to stay in contact with as many graduates as they can. They hope to not only find out how their post-high school education went, but ask them if there are ways CCHS could have better prepared them for it.

"I think that would help us improve as a school," Hoff said.

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