Thursday, 15 January 2015 15:57

Bucksport H.S. Graduation Rates Increase Thanks to BARR Project Featured

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BUCKSPORT - Staff and students at Bucksport High School celebrated an achievement that was initiated four years ago.
A national project chose this coastal school to try and boost graduation numbers, something it strongly accomplished.

A lot has changed in educational process at Bucksport High School in four years.


It all started when they took a chance on the "Building Assets, Reducing Risks" or BARR Project.


"Bucksport embraced the model so incredibly that they were able to show tremendous gains," Angela Jerabek, developer of the project, says. "Now they've become a national leader in the way they've been able to implement BARR."


That incredible achievement shown in graduation rates, jumping from 73% to 91% last year.


"My brother was the last class before that," Gabe Flegel, a Senior, says. "So looking from his class size to the past ones, it's amazing. A great improvement."


"This year we'll be in the high 90, and that speaks highly for the students and for us," Principal Dan Clifford, of Bucksport High School, says. "As long as we keep collecting that data, and it's there, we'll continue the program."


The primary focus is on the freshman class, getting students acclimated to the high school setting while also making sure they stay on track.


"A majority of high school dropouts have a negative experience their Freshman year," Clifford says. "We want that year to be successful that they leave with six to eight credits so they're on their way to graduation."


"Each teacher is now meeting with other teachers so there's a transparency of how students are doing in their class," Jerabek says.


"I never thought it would be a good program," Mike Goode, a Sophomore says. "I didn't want to do it, but it started out really great, and it's good now."


"The teachers are there to help you," Flegel says. "If you get behind, don't be afraid to ask someone."


Now, 45 more schools across the nation will be implementing the program come the fall.


Here in Maine, Mount View and Lake Region High Schools will take part along with Bucksport Middle School.


"After a school sees that it can be implemented, other schools around it often want to as well," Jerabek says. "We really want to grow as many as we can in Maine."


The goal is to recruit another 15 right here in the Pine Tree State.