GRANDVIEW - It was just five or six years ago, Mike Closner recalls, when Grandview High School was listed statewide among schools that were unsuccessful because of low graduation rates.
The tide has turned, and in a big way, as last week the state's superintendent of public instruction, Randy Dorn, honored Grandview High with an achievement award for its high graduation rate.
Closner, principal at GHS, says the award is based on a survey of the past three years that showed Grandview High with a graduation rate of more than 95 percent.
Only 27 high schools in the state were recognized for high graduation rates.
"We've worked hard as a district on our graduation rate," he said. "Fewer than 5 percent of our students don't graduate from high school."
Closner said the marked progress is the result of a commitment to new strategies.
"Probably the most important thing we've done is for every kid to have a significant relationship with a teacher in the school," he said. "That goes a long way to helping kids find a mentor they can turn to for help."
Closner said the schools also work with parents to make sure they are involved in the mentoring process.
Closner noted that the honor doesn't earn the high school a financial award, but that the district will receive a certificate and recognition at state-wide events.
He added that even with a high graduation rate there's still much work to be done at Grandview High School.
"We have opportunities to improve in math," Closner said.
Altogether, Dorn announced achievement awards for 174 schools in the state. They included elementary, middle and high schools.
Besides graduation rates, other criteria for recognition were in the areas of science, math, language arts and overall excellence.
"We're proud of these schools," said Dorn. "They're showing that great gains can be made for all students."
The schools will be recognized at celebrations around the state on May 5.