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By Anonymous
Posted Mar 09, 2010 @ 12:00 PM

One big key to raising high school graduation rates is to get students engaged not only in their high school course work but also in what many might not have imagined for themselves: going to college.

The dual-credit programs in Stark County, which enable students to take college courses before they finish high school, have been honored with awards twice in as many weeks.

We want Stark Countians to know this because too many give too little credit to the education reforms that are taking place here.

The Stark Education Partnership, which has pioneered these efforts, last week was given $8,000 by Dominion East Ohio and a 2009 Community Impact Award by Inside Business magazine and Dominion.

The judges noted that nearly 1,300 Stark students in 17 districts had earned almost 4,000 hours of credit at six colleges and universities, “with tuition savings ranging from $410,000 to more than $1.5 million.” (Arts in Stark, the county arts council, also was honored with $8,000 for its work on the downtown Canton arts district.)

And the Stark Education Partnership was honored in February by the College Board with one of its 2010 Innovation Awards. The board said its awards “celebrate some of America’s most powerful efforts to improve the academic success of students from low-income backgrounds.” The awards also are given to raise awareness of best practices — projects worthy of being tried elsewhere.

Congratulations to the adults who made these dual-credit programs possible and the students who are taking advantage of them. Their success will be Stark County’s, too.

••••

SCHOOL SPIRIT: An item in Denise Sautters’ “Around Town” column Friday had our eyes popping. “More than 300 Mount Union College students raised $77,121.92 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during the second annual Up ’til Dawn fundraiser,” she wrote.

This amazing show of energy and commitment on behalf of others says something wonderful about the students and their school. They should be proud of what they’ve done.

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