Graduation 2013: Seniors say they’re ready to tackle the world

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The focus on college and career readiness at Shelby County Public Schools seems to have at least raised awareness among students.

By Lisa King

Hundreds more residents of Shelby County will graduate from high schools this week and face that immediate question: Are they ready for life after graduation?


That can’t be answered for several years, of course, but school officials say they are impressed with the seriousness that this year’s graduates are regarding their futures.

“A lot of the kids that are graduating now, I have taught in first grade, and I have a senior myself,” said Susan Dugle, curriculum coordinator for student achievement. “I have talked to a lot of them, and more of them seem to have a plan for their future. Almost every kid that I ask knows where they’re going to school, what they’re going to be and how they’re going to get there.

“Not only have they decided on a possible major, but they also know how to get there, and what they’ve done in high school to prepare to get there.”

Dugle’s daughter, Kirstin, 18, a senior at Shelby County High School, says she is excited about interning at the University of Kentucky next year as an athletic trainer.

“I got an application here at the school from the counselors, for a student athletic training program at UK, and I ended up getting in the final fifteen, and I interviewed there, and they offered me a position on the staff,” she said. “So next year, I'm going to be working with the football team. I'll be working with them, taping ankles and giving treatments for injured people.”

Dugle’s major is in human health services, and she wants to be a sports medicine physician's assistant.

“That athletic training internship will give me a lot of training that I will need,” she said. “The program has everything planned out for me, the classes I have to take to get that major.

“I feel like I have really been prepared here with the Project Lead the Way classes, the biomedical classes. I've taken all four courses of those. I think that's prepared me for that first year, probably starting with biology and other sciences. I'm so excited.”

Dugle’s principal, Eddie Oakley, said he is very excited for Dugle and for another SCHS student, Jamie Bradley, who is going to interning at the University of Louisville football program in a similar capacity.

“They both ended up, through our biomedical program, getting these opportunities, and that's just awesome,” he said. 

Traci Ann Nash, 18, a senior at Collins High School, will be going to Kentucky State University to major in math.

Another student who seems sure of her goals and who has her eye on the future, Nash said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until she began helping other students with their algebra that she knew she wanted to set her sights on teaching math.

“It’s what I like to do,” she said.

In order to get ready for college, Nash has taken several Advanced Placement classes, and she tutors middle school students once a week.

Nash said what she likes about mathematics is that it is a subject that is more concrete than abstract.

“There is always an answer,” she said.

Nash said that attitude is also important in getting better prepared for college.

“You should always try to stay focused and don’t let your friends talk you into going down a different path,” she said. “It’s your future, not theirs.”

Melissa Settles, a guidance counselor at Collins, said she thinks this year’s seniors are well prepared to go into the world and take on their dreams.

“I would say that sixty to seventy percent of our senior class has taken at least one advanced class,” she said, adding that if they score high enough they could get college credit.

“I think we have kind of a push from the state about students being college and career ready and I think that has spilled over to the students and they're excited about that.”

Susan Dugle echoed that sentiment.

“Kids talk about themselves being college and career ready,” she said. “They know that is the focus, and they talk about that as part of their normal conservations. It’s part of their expectations and I think that’s really exciting.”

Superintendent James Neihof said that he thinks students are becoming more focused mainly because teachers and administrators have set that example for them.

“Both of our high school principals have, along with teachers and counselors, focused on increasing the percentage of seniors who are graduating college or career ready this year,” he said. “Although they track students accomplishments, the final calculation is done by the Kentucky Department of Education. According to school records, we are predicting an increase in the percentage of Shelby County seniors meeting or exceeding College Readiness benchmarks.

“As far as personal observations are concerned, I sense an increasing level of focus on preparing students to demonstrate mastery of standards across all grade levels at both high schools.”




WHAT:2013 commencement

WHEN:Saturday, 1 p.m. at Shelby County High School, 7 p.m. at Collins High School

WHERE:School gymnasiums

SEATING:Priority seating for families, with large video screens set up for overflow crowds.

LIVE STREAMING:The commencements can be watched live on

www.shelby.kyschools.us. By clicking on “Graduation” on the top toolbar