HHS Encourages all Pathways for Future Graduates
By Jennifer Telecky, Assistant Principal, Hutchinson High School
On June 7th, over 200 Hutchinson High School students earned their high school diploma during the first graduation ceremony in the newly remodeled Whalen Gymnasium. Three weeks before this commencement took place, I had a conversation with a parent regarding her child’s plans for the future. She explained that her son would be attending a two-year school for a technical career. I thought this sounded perfect for him and told her so. In continuing our conversation I found out that reactions received from others were less enthusiastic – something closer to, “oh, ya, that’s okay” but sounding more like it was not okay or there was something wrong with his choice. At some point in time, it became a common belief that in order to be successful, students needed to attend a four-year college. This is far from the truth.
While pursuing a four-year degree is perfect for some, others follow this path because it is what they think are supposed to do. Recent data shows that fewer than 40% of students who start a four-year degree finish in four years and 58.3% of students who start a four-year degree finish in six years. While there are many reasons why a student does not complete a degree, one is definitely that a four-year degree was not the right path for that student. Sometimes the change is due to interest and other times it is because they find that what they want to do does not require four years of education. They may have also discovered that two-thirds of all jobs in our current economy require a two-year degree or less.
Hutchinson is very fortunate to have a high school that has offerings to support and encourage the exploration of many pathways. Our Tigerpath Academies are designed to provide students with individualized academic and career exploration based on their interests and aptitude. Of course every high school has the required coursework, but beyond that, our classes support those who go straight to the workforce, complete certification programs, technical programs and four-year colleges. All four of our TigerPaths (STREAM, SciHi, Business, and Human Services) do this.
Recently our TigerPath coordinator, Andrea Moore, created a job board for our students. Local businesses/employers can post opportunities and students can pursue jobs (summer or post high school employment), internships and job shadowing opportunities. This is another way HHS encourages post-secondary pathway success and exploration before deciding on a career.
Before leaving school for the summer, all 9th-12th grade students submitted or updated a four-year plan for high school. Students create this plan based on graduation requirements, interests, what they are good at and their chosen Tigerpath. This plan will guide them through their high school years. Some students will stick to one plan, while others will make changes as their interests change. Parents are encouraged to talk to their students about their chosen Tigerpath. They are also encouraged to learn more about our TigerPath Academies through our website at www.hutchtigerpath.com. This website informs, encourages, and honors all pathways that a graduate may choose.