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Batavia High School seniors are finding success with engagement post-COVID

By Joanne Beck

Batavia High School Principal Paul Kesler


Batavia High School seniors are on the right path, Principal Paul Kesler says.

Kesler added a number along with his comment: 96. After having a graduation rate of 85 percent in 2011, fluctuating from 89 to 94 percent through 2020, seniors are at a 96 percent graduation rate, Kesler said. The increased percentage is proof that career initiatives and student attitudes are pushing kids on to greater success, he said.

“It’s a testimony of the work done in K through 12,” he said during this week’s board meeting. “We’re finding the right pathways.”

Some of those pathways include  early college opportunities with Genesee Community College and now Daemen College, which is new this year. Daemen hosted a cartooning class free of charge, with the school district paying for supplies. Students became engaged in the class, and it was a success in providing other possible avenues for them to pursue, he said.

A Leave to Learn program exposes students to various career possibilities, such as first responder, manufacturing, counseling and educational occupations. 

“Students are going to be able to select one of six buses, and on that date they’re going to have an opportunity to be with an adult and have an awesome work session,” he said.

The past two years have not only been frustrating for most, but have introduced socialization issues to district leaders, Kesler said. 

“It has caused us to realize that, not only as a district but as a nation, some of the focus needs to be on helping students be able to interact … our mental health is really important,” he said.

A post-graduation program — a Cornell University boot camp offered in collaboration with Genesee County Economic Development Center — will be available to seniors after they graduate. The camp is three days a week of concentrations in manufacturing jobs, Kesler said. Other improved partnerships include local dairy companies for hands-on learning and training, he said.

“We’re seeing more engagement of students,” he said, compared to when kids were remote due to COVID-19. 

May 2 will be “Decision Day” for graduating seniors to have the spotlight to announce their choices of college or career options. Fellow district students will be on hand to cheer them on, he said.

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