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Midyear graduation rewards persistent students

CMSD will hold a midyear graduation ceremony Friday, rewarding 41 students who persevered beyond four years to fulfill requirements and pass state exams.

The graduation, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the East Professional Center, will become an annual rite and provide an incentive for students to keep working.

Some students might have family responsibilities or jobs and could give up if they are faced with a delay of even a few months, said Karen Thompson, the District’s deputy director of curriculum and instruction. Graduating in the middle of the year can help them move on to a career or college.

“These are kids who are waiting for that next step in life,” she said. “This is an opportunity or incentive if they are finishing up their credits.”

The 41 students have been catching up by taking courses on computer, in or outside of school, each at their own pace and under a teacher’s supervision. Or they needed to pass state exams. Most were in their fifth year of high school.
One of those who will participate in the ceremony Friday, Ikeia D. Clark, fought longer. She was supposed to graduate from South High in 2009, a year before it closed, but could not pass the science portion of the Ohio Graduation Test.
She took the exam nine or 10 times, failing on four occasions by a single point.  She grew frustrated at not being able to go to college or note a high school diploma on job applications. 
Clark, a hospital security guard, is the mother of two children, ages 1 and 5, and wants them to know that she never gave up in her quest for a diploma. With the help of tutoring sessions at CMSD's East Professional Center, she took the science test again this school year and passed.
"I didn't want to labeled as a statistic," said Clark, who hopes to become a registered nurse and work at her passion for caring for others, particularly the elderly. "It bothered me. I knew, in the back of my head, I had unfinished business."
CMSD has used intensive intervention to raise its four-year graduation rate, which has climbed steadily and now stands at a record 69.1 percent. The five-year rate is 74.3 percent.
The ceremony will give students three opportunities a year to graduate. CMSD also holds commencement ceremonies in the spring and after summer school ends.

Also graduating Friday will be 66 students from CMSD’s School of One program, which has been holding midyear commencement ceremonies since 2013.

School of One students take all their courses by computer at one of seven District sites.

The students, who typically range in age from 17 to 23, enroll in School of One for varying reasons.

They might be working or have children, or they might simply feel out of place in a regular classroom, said Wayne Marok, who oversees the program. Some are completing high school while they also take college courses for credit.

The School of One accepts up to 210 students at a time, but they leave the program as they complete their work. About 400 are enrolled at different times during the school year, Marok said.