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New program ‘boosts’ Wilmington students’ graduation odds

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McKean High School in Colonial School District was among those that benefitted from the Boost’22 program. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CSD

WILMINGTON – A highly personalized, multi-school effort is helping more students from the city of Wilmington graduate high school, according to school officials.

Boost’22, a multi-district initiative launched last year with the support of the nonprofit Communities in Schools (CIS) network organization has provided one-on-one mentoring and support to nearly 500 public school students living in Wilmington, 88% of whom graduated on time in 2022.

“This collaborative effort was a win-win for Wilmington students and districts that have a common goal of helping all students reach academic success,” said Lauren Wilson, Colonial School District public information officer.

The inaugural program focused on high schools in the Brandywine, Christina, Colonial, New Castle County Vocational Technical and Red Clay Consolidated school districts. Boost’22 utilizes counselors from CIS as well as the districts themselves to address individual student challenges, from transportation and language barriers to attendance and academics. 

“The success of this program was completely dependent on the dedicated staff members who helped struggling students finish high school on time despite any obstacles that may have been in their way,” New Castle County Vo Tech Superintendent Joseph Jones said in statement.

The idea initially started with officials from the five districts committing to providing additional support to students living in Wilmington, regardless of what schools they attended, said Alexis Andrianopoulos, supervisor of communications and engagement at New Castle County Vo Tech, which had 161 students participate in the program. Of those students, 147, or 91%, graduated on time. 

“[The program was about] making sure the students have every opportunity to graduate and succeed on time, whatever those resources would have been,” Andrianopoulos said. “Especially because COVID interrupted everything, it became even more imperative for students that needed a boost, who needed that little extra support, whatever it looked like.”

The program began by working with rising seniors at high schools within those districts, but will return this school year in a slightly different format by working with freshmen students and following them throughout their four years of high school.

“After having a successful experience with Boost’22, the collective wisdom of leaders decided we should start this kind of effort when students are in the ninth grade, which is historically when a significant number of dropouts occur,” Wilson said. “Boost’26 will focus on students residing in Wilmington at the beginning of their high school experience with extra support and monitoring so we can have continued success upon graduation in 2026.”

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