An initiative to keep more students in school throughout the year seems to be paying off for the St. Joseph School District.
District officials report a nearly 10 percent increase in attendance numbers among high school students.
"Approximately 85.5 percent of students in grades 9-12 have attended school 90 percent of the time. This is a 9.8 percent improvement from the attendance rate at the end of the 2016-17 school year," The district's Strive for Five website said.
Strive for Five is a program implemented by SJSD at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year to encourage regular school attendance among students.
At Lafayette High School, nearly one-fourth of the student population has perfect attendance for the 17-18 school year so far. As a reward, those students were treated to an Olive Garden lunch on Wednesday.
Lafayette Principal Chris Early said he feels the Strive for Five initiative is part of the reason for the attendance increase. He said the initiative has led to more communication among school staff and parents.
"I think some of the people that were a little bit leery of this at first thought 'oh my gosh that's asking a lot'. I think the big drastic change I've seen is a lot of those parents are now getting on board," Early said. "What I think they're seeing, is an improvement in their kids' grades. They're seeing that, if they're here every day, they have a better chance to succeed."
Early said at Lafayette, teachers started discussing the importance of attendance with their classes on the first day of the school year.
"Not just from the perspective of going to school," Early said. "But we talked about how this is building habits for later on in life. We talked about someday when they're in the workforce it's going to be an expectation that they show up for work, or if they're going to college they have to show up to class or you're not going to succeed."
You can find more about the SJSD Strive for Five program by clicking here.