HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - An effort is underway to reduce the high school dropout rate on the coast and across the state. It began with a dropout prevention seminar hosted by the Harrison County School District.
People from all walks of life attended the seminar. This is what it takes to achieve success and keep kids in school. Bill Bradley is a member of the Harrison County School Board.
"Bringing the fire chiefs in, all of the community leaders who help is good. We have supervisors here, people from different business organizations, to get all of them involved and understanding what we're going through and how they can help," Bradley said.
The Mississippi graduation rate is 82 percent. That's below the national average of 83 percent.
The coast fares better, but the new lesson plan must be focused on simple economics. That's the message from Jean Massey, with the Mississippi Department of Education.
"We're working very closely with the state workforce investment board and other areas to make sure that the education we're providing helps the students see how the economic value of our state will improve and their living conditions will improve," Massey explained.
When it comes to high school students, excuses are now unacceptable, according to Harrison Central High School Principal Averie Bush.
"You can't cop out and say because we're the poorest state, because these kids have these challenges, we just throw our hands up. No, you identify those challenges and put a plan in place to address them," Bush said.
Convincing kids to stay in school and on the road to success sometimes isn't accomplished with facts and figures. It's accomplished with something much more important. Something that comes from the heart, Bush said.
"The kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Then, you know what it is they want to do truly, so you can connect to the kids. Establishing a foundational personal relationship is critical," Bush said.
If those critical needs are met, these children will have a bright future.
State education officials say they are implementing a plan to increase the graduation rate in Mississippi to 85 percent by the year 2020.