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SEE HOW: Taylor County is working to boost graduation rates after levels drop by over 6%

Posted at 9:04 AM, Mar 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-22 09:04:39-04
  • The latest Florida Department of Education data shows graduation rates have dropped over 6% percent in Taylor County.
  • Taylor County High Schools has introduced measures to help boost these numbers as students navigate the consequences of COVID-19 and Hurricane Idalia.
  • Watch the video to hear from current seniors about how they persevered and why graduating in Taylor County is so important to them.


It's a push to help more students get their high school diploma.

I'm your neighborhood reporter, Maya Sargent, in Perry.

With fewer than 60 days until graduation day here, I'm learning how Taylor County is working to boost graduation rates.

Helping more seniors walk across the stage with a diploma in hand. That's been the focus at Taylor County High School.

"Sometimes you have struggles, sometimes you have obstacles, but you've just got to achieve them," said senior Briar Willis.

These obstacles have included navigating the consequences of Covid-19 and more recently, Hurricane Idalia.

According to recent Florida Department of Education data, Taylor County as a district saw a drop in graduation rates by over 6% between the 2021/22 and the 2022/23 school year.

However, seniors such as Briar Willis and Maisel Jay, who will graduate in just a few weeks, have persevered through these challenges.

"Very proud of myself," said Jay. "I didn't expect I would come this far actually."

They've been supported by educators inside and outside of their school walls.

Taylor County High School has implemented measures to combat this data including smaller class sizes, working with parents, and additional tracking.

"We can stay on top of their needs and tailor their education to meet what they need," said Principal Heather McCoy.

McCoy said she wants her students to get a diploma, because they've worked hard and deserve the opportunity to do anything,

"Go to college, go in the military, go get a trade, go directly to work," said McCoy. "But we just want them to have every option available to them, and be able to have the sky as their limit."

Superintendent of Taylor County Schools, Alicia Beshears, said that wealth of opportunity is available right in their backyards in Taylor County.

They're introducing more programs to bring more local talent into the workforce.

"We're attracting more and more industry here because we do have the land, we do have the talent pool," said Beshears.

Beshears said they're on the right path. To progress, she says it's about ensuring students value education from as early as kindergarten.

"Showing the importance of education, showing the opportunities that they can have to leave this school and go make a living for themselves to go and become productive citizens of the world," said Beshears. "That's what we want."

It's something that has resonated with Willis. He's graduating so he can work to give back to Taylor County.

"[The community] has helped me and supported me all my way, so I might as well help them out a little bit and support them," said Willis.

Willis also wants to set a good example for his younger sisters.

Showing how efforts now are shaping the future of Taylor County tomorrow.

Graduation will take place at Taylor County High School on May 17th.