Editorial: Can we reach another 84 percent together?

February 1, 2012

Kudos of the week goes to the students and staff of Hood River Valley High School.

The report on graduation rates and an article on the Extended Application night at HRVHS are both profiled on page A1 of this edition. They are examples of convergent yet parallel tracks that benefit HRVHS students.

At 84 percent, the HRVHS graduation rate trends well above the state average, placing the school in the top 7 schools in Oregon, and fourth when factoring in the high ratio of students who are on free and reduced-price meals status.

The success happens because people work together; teachers and staff focus on outcomes for the students, and the school has engaged local agencies, community partners and a host of volunteers to spend time with the students and help them achieve their goals.

The Extended Application process is a case in point. Many citizens stepped forward to serve as judges at this week's EA showcase. Plenty of others are cooperating throughout the school year, and did so last summer, providing a venue or mentorship, or both, for the students' EA projects.

The Summit Career Center, the ASPIRE volunteer counseling service and tutoring programs at the high school are other unsung examples of the year-long backing by businesses and individuals.

As Principal Karen Neitzel states, the range of community support "shows the students how important their work is and that it is valued by the community."

In turn, students make efforts on behalf of the community with via Community Work Day (coming up in May; watch this space), the annual food drive and other programs.

"Our kids do a lot of things for the community and in turn the community gives our kids a lot of support," Neitzel said.

Students who are 17 and will turn 18 this year are eligible to register to vote; we encourage them to engage in the democratic process, for voting is one of those acts of community service in which we help ourselves as well as others.

In Saturday's edition, we'll publish the list of offices up for election on the Hood River County ballot; the vote is May 15 but the deadline to file is March 6. A related deadline is April 24 - the last date to register to vote for the Primary.

In the past two primary elections the overall county voter turnout was 59 percent and 70 percent, in 2010 and 2008, respectively.

There will be plenty of newly eligible young voters in 2012, and with the help of the engaged as well as previously idle voters of all ages, it points to a goal this May and November.

The graduate rate of 84 percent is admirable - so this year, what if our voter turnout rate came close to matching it?

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