Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.

Below is a reprint of a guest editorial that appeared in The Daily News on September 23, 2018. 

It has been great getting students back in the classroom over the last two weeks.  The positive interaction between our staff and students and the excellent instruction being provided is indicative of the quality education our schools are committed to providing the students we serve.

When I talk with folks in the community they often ask, “How is the school district doing?” The short answer is the district is doing well – and focused on getting better every day.

An indicator of this success is found in the school district’s graduation rate improvement over the past five years.   During this period, our district’s graduation rate has risen from 72% to 88%.  Graduation rates from the past two years have risen above state averages and this year’s rate includes a 6% increase at Mark Morris High School, a 13% increase at RA Long High School and an impressive 46% increase at Discovery High School, our alternative school.

The importance of the high school diploma can’t be understated.  It is our student’s ticket to opportunities in the work force, vocational training, and 2 and 4 year colleges.  We will continue to focus upon providing courses and experiences for our students that meet their unique interests, needs, and career aspirations.

We are proud of the work of our staff and students.  Their hard work and commitment has resulted in gains that we can all be proud of.

While the district has been increasing graduations rates, we’ve also focused on another important aspect of getting a diploma – being “work ready”.  A work ready high school graduate is a young person who can enter the labor market with basic marketable job skills.  To help achieve work ready status students are exposed to career information in middle school.  At this point the goal is to help young people start to form ideas about what type of jobs might interest them.

As kids get to high school the district offers career pathways organized into six broad areas of study. The six pathways include agriculture and natural resources, arts and communications, business and information technology, engineering and manufacturing, health sciences and human services.

From the six broad areas of study coursework is further broken down into sixteen “career clusters”. The career clusters are jobs grouped by similarity. For example, a student can choose to take the manufacturing pathway focusing on construction trades. The student would take specific coursework including classes in manufacturing foundations, computer aided drafting, pre-apprenticeship skills, Microsoft IT academy and more to prepare them to be work ready.

We’re proud of improved graduation rates and efforts to produce work ready young adults, but we also recognize the need for improved programs and educational opportunities.

On October 3rd the district will hold a grand opening event for its new pre-apprenticeship program. The event will be held at Mark Morris High School at 5:30 p.m. The pre-apprenticeship program will prepare students for careers working in the trades after high school through specific coursework and application. The new pre-apprenticeship program will give graduates more career options for a brighter future.

In addition, three Longview schools were the only schools in Washington recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for creating a “culture of health” – R. A. Long and Mark Morris High Schools along with Olympic Elementary recently won these awards.  Creating a culture of health in schools is more than serving nutritious food. A healthy culture means healthy food, exercise, community involvement and a focus on the health of both students and staff members.  The result of a healthy school culture is students performing better on tests, getting better grades, attending school more often, behaving better in class, and earning a high school diploma.

We appreciate your support of Longview Public Schools. The district is working extremely hard to give each child we serve the best education possible.