Hancock County 8th graders pledge to fight dropout problem - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hancock County 8th graders pledge to fight dropout problem


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – Hundreds of people gathered in the Hancock Middle School gym Friday to witness a signing ceremony.

"The one thing my grandfather told me was that he wished for me to go to college. I promised him I would," eighth grader Chanelle Bolton told the crowd of students, parents and teachers.

The students heard inspiring words from fellow eighth graders.

"If you stay focused and you really try, you can do anything if you're willing," said another eighth grader Destiny Guidry.

They also listened to advice from high school juniors.

"A high school diploma provides an entry ticket to college, higher paying salaries, and confidence in yourself," said Elizabeth Jenkins.

A total of 347 eighth graders at Hancock Middle School are preparing to move on to high school.

"Don't be afraid. I know it's a big step. But we already love you and we're already committed to you," said Hancock High Principal Rhett Ladner.

But the graduation rate in Hancock County is 74 percent.  And this is the age when some students start thinking about dropping out.

"We won't be happy until we're 100 percent," said Hancock County School Superintendent Alan Dedeaux.  "We feel like for our students to have advantage, to be successful, we have to graduate everyone in our Hancock County School System."

So school district leaders encouraged the eighth graders to put a promise on paper.

"Today, we pledge as a class to climb mountains, graduate high school, and go the distance," said eighth grader Marlee Necaise.

With a parent or teacher by their side, the students signed a pledge to stay in school.  It was the start of a four-year journey that will come with challenges.

"If you see them stumble, please help them up," the school counselor told the parents and teachers.

The students vowed to not give up and talked about getting their diplomas together.

"And I hope to see you all when we graduate on that faithful day, as Hancock Hawks, class of 2014," said Destiny.  With those words, the entire class erupted in cheers.

PLEDGE stands for "I Promise to Learn Each Day and Graduate Empowered."  The pledge forms will be placed in a time capsule to be opened the year the students graduate - May of 2014.

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