County graduation rate tops state for sixth year

Chapel Hill High Principal Nicole Watson says it was a combined effort from students, teachers and counselors that gave the 2020 senior class a 94.9% graduation rate, the highest in the county.

For the sixth consecutive school year, all five high schools in Douglas County exceeded the state graduation rate.

The district had an average rate of 89.4% for the 2020 graduation class while the state came in at an 83.8% average, according to date released by the Georgia Department of Education.

Chapel Hill and Alexander had the two highest rates, respectively, while going over 90% each.

Chapel Hill had a county-leading 94.9%, which is well above the state average. At 92.82%, Alexander was second in the county, according to the DOE data.

“Our goal in the Douglas County School System is for every student not only to graduate, but to graduate prepared for college or the military or with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce,” Superintendent Trent North said.

Chapel Hill Principal Nicole Watson commended her staff and the students for their efforts as their senior year went remotely in March because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Of course we are extremely pleased at what the class of 2020 was able to accomplish in a year filled with bad news,” Watson said. “I’m pleased with the students and staff as they were able to stay focused through everything and kept their eye on the prize. I tell them when they arrive at Chapel Hill in the ninth grade that my plan is for them to graduate.”

According to the data, Lithia Springs saw the biggest growth in the recent graduating class. Lithia Springs had a graduation rate of 87% in 2020, which was up from 83.2% in 2019.

New Manchester was the only school that saw a drop in its graduation rate from the previous year.

New Manchester’s 2020 rate was 84.9%, which was down from 87.02% in 2019.

In 2020, 105 state school districts and 230 schools recorded graduation rates at or above 90%, according to a DOE news release. Twenty-nine districts and 89 schools recorded rates at or above 95% for the 2020 class, the GDOE reported.

“We are proud of our rate,” Alexander Principal Chris Small said. “It is the highest it has been in several years. Proud of our counselors who work closely with the students to make sure they are on track to graduate. We are a team at Alexander High. We treat everyone at Alexander as if they were family.”

Watson said the class of 2021 will face a challenge because of the split between remote and in-person learning because of the pandemic.

“I’m worried because of the circumstances that these students are facing,” Watson said. “We have really been reaching out to help them to make sure that they stay on track.”