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Hats off to grads

By Staff | Jun 6, 2009

Students across Lee County spent the last week purchasing caps and gowns, rehearsing ceremonies and saying their good-byes in anticipation for the beginning of the rest of their lives.
This weekend the Class of 2009 will cross a four-year threshold as students receive their high school diplomas. Overall, approximately 5,000 students will graduate in the School District of Lee County.
School Superintendent James Browder said he knows the students coming from this district will be successful in life after school.
“I am really excited for them and their parents, and I wish them well in whatever they pursue,” said Browder. “I am also confident that the education they have received has prepared them for the next step in their life.”
Browder, members of the school board, and other district officials will make appearances at different ceremonies this weekend.
“We are all anxious for them to get out there and do well,” said Browder.
Past ceremonies in Lee County were spread out over different weekends throughout May and June, but last year district officials decided to consolidate all of the graduations into one weekend. Now they are streamlined to reduce costs and prevent students from having to wait weeks after the end of school to have their ceremony.
It also helps families who need to attend multiple graduations.
According to Joe Donzelli, spokesperson for the school district, combining all of the ceremonies last year saved the district approximately $100,000.

Lee County’s 2009
graduation rate

Graduation rates are collected by the Florida Department of Education and are based on the number of students who enter school in ninth grade and graduate within four years. Those students who leave the district are removed from the cohort.
Students included in the graduation rates are those receiving a standard diploma, special diploma or a General Equivalent Diploma (GED).
Determining the number of students graduating can be a challenge with students entering and leaving the school district. The Lee County School District currently has a student mobility rate of 40 percent.
In the 2007-2008 school year, Lee County had a graduation rate of 77.8 percent while the state’s average rate was 75.4 percent.
While the rates of student graduation are increasing each year, the state’s drop-out rate decreased from 3.8 percent in 2000 to 2.6 percent in the 2007-2008 school year. Over the same eight-year period, the drop-out rate in Lee County decreased from 5.6 to 1.8 percent.

Party time for students
at Project Graduation

High schools in Cape Coral host Project Graduation as a safe alternative to the unsupervised after-party. Rhonda Holloway, a parent of a student at Ida S. Baker High, said this year’s Project Graduation will be at the German-American Social Club.
Project Graduation is open from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and costs $25 per student. According to Holloway, 130 students have signed up to attend. There will be volleyball games, a rock climbing wall, bounce houses and continual raffles and giveaways. Local restaurants also donated food for the party.
Students are checked in and typically stay the duration of the night, explained Holloway.
“If they want to leave we call their parents to tell them they are choosing to leave,” said Holloway.
Raffles are held towards the end of the evening, she said, where graduates have a chance of winning a 26-inch television or a Nintendo Wii.
“It’s $25 per student, but they get it back whether in gift cards or stuff for college,” said Holloway.
Ida S. Baker and Mariner High are the only two high schools in Cape Coral which are hosting Project Graduation. Mariner’s graduation party will be at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

schedule for Lee County students

Ceremonies on Saturday, June 6:
– Cape Coral High graduation at 2 p.m. in Harbourside Event Center
– Estero High School graduation at 2 p.m. in Germain Arena
– Fort Myers High graduation at 2 p.m. in Lee Civic Center
– Island Coast High graduation at 2 p.m. in Island Coast High Auditorium
– South Fort Myers High graduation at 7 p.m. in Germain Arena
– Dunbar High graduation at 7 p.m. in Harbourside Event Center
– Lehigh Senior High at 7 p.m. in Lee Civic Center
– Buckingham School at 1 p.m. in Buckingham School

Ceremonies on
Sunday, June 7
– Mariner High at 2 p.m. in Harbourside Event Center
– Cypress Lake High at 2 p.m. in Germain Arena
– Ida S. Baker High High at 2 p.m. in Lee Civic Center
– East Lee County High at 7 p.m. in Harbourside Event Center
– North Fort Myers High at 7 p.m. in Germain Arena
– Riverdale High at 7 p.m. in Lee Civic Center

Source: Lee County School District