Youth advisory board to gather for dropout summit

Published 2:14 pm Saturday, December 15, 2007

JACKSON — Dropout prevention will be the focus when students representing all 247 high schools in Mississippi gather for the first-ever Destination Graduation: Teen Summit on Jan. 15 in Jackson. The summit is part of the Mississippi Department of Education’s dropout prevention plan to cut the state’s high school dropout rate in half by 2011-2012. The Education Commission of the States and State Farm are joining MDE to host more than 1,000 participants at the teen summit and facilitate the development of teen-led strategies to address the dropout problem.

MDE will hold a similar summit Feb. 28 to engage business and community leaders, faith-based organizations and parents in a process to identify and implement localized dropout prevention strategies in every community across the state.

On average, 36 students drop out of school every day in Mississippi, nearly a third of all high school students each year.

Email newsletter signup

“The teen summit is about developing student leaders and encouraging peer-to-peer communication about the importance of staying in school,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Hank M. Bounds. “This is an unprecedented effort. We’re bringing together high school students from every school, small and large, rural and urban, to talk about why kids drop out and develop some prevention strategies they can take back and implement in their own schools.”

The teen summit itself will be student-led, by 20 members of the State Superintendent’s Youth Advisory Board. The group recently was formed to serve as a voice for and to Mississippi school students on education issues. The summit will include two to three students (either sophomores or juniors) from every high school in the state, accompanied by a principal, counselor or lead teacher from each school.

Experts from the Education Commission of the States are helping organize and facilitate youth-oriented activities of the dropout prevention program, including the Youth Advisory Board and the teen summit.

“Mississippi is leading the way for the nation’s other 49 states in a statewide strategy to boost high school graduation rates,” said Roger Sampson, president of the Education Commission of the States. “We commend this effort and are pleased to play an important role in making this happen. We encourage this same kind of approach across the rest of the country and stand ready to assist other states. The bottom line for America will be a more competitive workforce and increased opportunity for our citizenry.”

Funding for Destination Graduation: Teen Summit is provided by State Farm, which also is underwriting a statewide dropout prevention awareness campaign that will be unveiled in January. Both MDE and the Public Education Forum of Mississippi are partnering with State Farm to develop the awareness campaign.