Todd Johnston, Principal Grayson County High School
June 14, 2014
Cross The Line. That’s what I challenged our faculty and staff at the high school to do at the very beginning of this past school year - to go beyond mediocrity - to make that extra effort on behalf of our students. I asked all of them to challenge our students to do the same, because the difference between being mediocre and being outstanding or extraordinary is often just a small thing - a little extra effort - a little more preparation - a little more commitment.
I am happy to report to you that our students responded tremendously to that challenge. They worked hard, focused on improving, and made a commitment to taking that extra step beyond mediocrity. They crossed the line and made it an outstanding year for GCHS.
We had a tremendous challenge to overcome even before school started, and our maintenance and cafeteria staffs set an example for all of us right off the bat. We had a major construction project last summer where hallways and restrooms in half of our building were upended to install new plumbing. Just a few days before school started, our building still looked like a disaster zone. Our maintenance and cafeteria staffs literally worked around the clock to get the school ready for our students on opening day - and they did it. They crossed the line.
We also had some momentum from the work we did the previous year. We found out early in the year that our state accountability scores jumped over 14 percent from the year before. That means our students’ academic performance improved significantly from one year to the next. And that’s a direct result of our teachers “crossing the line” and our students responding to the challenge to get better. GCHS is now categorized as a Proficient high school, ranked in the 85th percentile of schools in the state. That means only 15 percent of Kentucky schools scored higher than us. Our students - your children - crossed the line.
As many may know, a major focus of Kentucky schools is to make sure that students are college and/or career ready. That means if they’re going to college, they are ready academically for college work without taking remedial courses, which cost money but carry no college credit. And, if they’re going directly to work, that means they’ve shown they have the skills to go right to work and succeed. We take this very seriously at GCHS because we all believe a big part of our job is to prepare the young people of Grayson County to go out into the world and be productive citizens.
Our faculty worked hard throughout the year to make sure our students were indeed ready for college or the workforce, or both. And, once again, our students responded. Of the 284 seniors who received their diplomas this year, 176 were deemed college ready and 70 more career ready. Our average ACT scores were up one-half a point from the previous year, and 21 of our students scored 30 or above on that challenging national exam, putting them in the upper two percent of students nationwide - a new record for our school. Additionally, a record number of our students passed the Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards Assessment (KOSSA) this year in the areas of marketing, automotive, agriculture, administrative services, health sciences, family and consumer sciences, welding and carpentry. We were also successful in helping a large number of our students pass the Work Keys exam, another measure of work readiness.
Not only did our students cross the line in the classroom, but also in athletic competition and co-curricular clubs and organizations. Our athletic teams won several district championships, advancing to regional, state competition and even national competition. We had numerous students who won in statewide competition in co-curricular clubs, and several elected to statewide office. And our band, choral and orchestral groups once again received distinguished ratings from their statewide music associations.
Where do we go from here? We firmly believe in the old adage that if we’re standing still, we’re going backward, and we don’t intend to do that. Our faculty is already working hard to prepare for the upcoming school year, and we intend to hit the ground running on opening day. As we begin our 40th year as a high school, we are even more committed to the success of our students. With the continued support of our board, parents, local businesses and community groups, we will draw a new line and cross it.