ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Manuel Vera’s interests abound.
The 14-year-old freshman at Del Norte High School wants to become an architect. He’d also like to try his hand at acting. And someday he wants to see Paris.
“There are so many dreams I have,” Vera said.
But before he can accomplish any of them, he knows he must graduate from high school, and he intends do so in four years.
Vera and nearly all of this year’s freshman class at Del Norte have signed a pledge stating that they will graduate on time in four years. The pledge is a new initiative for Del Norte this year.
Principal Jo Sloan said school officials are trying hard to make sure students stay on track academically, beginning in their freshman year, because if they fall behind in their courses, it is hard for them to catch up. Students often sour on school if they fall behind, she said.
Historically, many students at Del Norte have failed to graduate on time, although the school’s graduation rate
has climbed. In 2013 – the last year for which data is available – 61.9 percent of Del Norte students graduated in four years, according to Public Education Department statistics. In 2008, the figure was 44.8 percent.
Just talking about graduating on time and reminding students of their goals helps, Sloan said. “I think they become much more serious and much more focused,” she said.
In signing the pledge, students promise to:
• Track their academic progress regularly by looking at their official transcripts;
• Find a mentor;
• Choose friends wisely;
⋄ Ask teachers or staff for help if they need it; and
• Help inspire their classmates to succeed.
“I wanted to make a promise to myself to graduate and finish with my class,” said Joaquim Carter, a 14-year-old freshman.
Carter he said he and his cousin hope to be the first in their family to graduate from high school. Carter said he wants to become a mechanic.
First-year Del Norte student Azriel Bookland said the pledge will provide another incentive for her to study when she gets home from school.
Activities Director Scott Goff, who came up with the initiative, said the pledge lets students know they are responsible for their own education. The idea also helps students keep their graduation goal front and center, he said
To that end, a pledge banner the class of 2018 signed will be displayed at school assemblies throughout their high school career, Goff said.
“For all four years of school, it is going to follow students,” he said.
Future freshman classes also will sign a pledge Goff said, adding that he hopes the pledge will become a longstanding Del Norte tradition.