By Ashley Conroy - email
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -- Mississippi's drop rate didn't drop in 2009 and now stands at 16.7 percent according to the State Department of Education.
It's lead an initiative from the State Board of Education to increase the graduation rate by 2013.
In a statement, State Superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham said: "The MBE's goal of reducing the state's dropout rate to 13 percent by 2013 is still an attainable goal. School Districts across the state have adopted programs aimed at keeping students in school and on a path to graduate."
One student, Carlos Smith just graduated from Wingfield High School as Salutatorian. Wingfield has a drop rate over 30 percent.
Smith says his mother didn't complete her education past the 6th and always taught him the value of fishing what he started.
"My momma always said it's not the house that you build it's the foundation that you build it on," Smith said.
Smith not only reached the top of his class, he belonged to several honor societies, received numerous scholarships, and now has a full ride to Jackson State University.
"When you have that person in your life that you have that strong bond with to make sure that you're on the right track."
In the Jackson Metro area Clinton and Madison Public School Districts had the highest graduation rates in 2009.
Clinton's graduation rate was at 88.5 percent and Madison's rate was at 85.8 percent.
All the while, Jackson and Canton Public Schools had the lowest rates at 59.8 percent (Jackson) and 60.6 percent (Canton).
Assistant Superintendent for Clinton Public Schools, Tim Martin would like to see their graduation rate even higher.
But attributes their success over other districts to working with students from the time they are young.
"Students that drop out of school doesn't happen at the high school level. It actually happens at elementary and middle school level where they get behind," Martin said.
Colonel Paul Willis from the JuniorROTC program from Jackson Public Schools says programs like theirs build leadership and goals for students to build their future.
Colonel Willis is convinced programs like this can help reduce Mississippi's high drop out rate.
"Our job is to take them from wherever they are, wherever we receive them and move them as far forward as we possibly can."
For JROTC's 2010 graduates, 86 percent of the students who graduated from this program had an opportunity for some time of higher education.
Carlos Smith wants other students to know that there's always someone along way who can help.
"And I've had my struggles and trials and tribulations, but that didn't stop me from achieving my goals.
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