According to the state, Southwest High School's graduation rate was 39 percent in 2012. Its new principal Tanzy Kilcrease means business and demands change.
She said "when you can get students to behave in an appropriate manner, to come to school, and come to school on time, prepared, then you can work with students in order to help them graduate."
Senior Corey Stewart said the school lacked stability and students did whatever they wanted before Tanzy Kilcrease became principal.
"They just running crazy. So they ain't really focus on they work. So they really ain't worried about graduating," said Stewart.
Georgia Tech hopeful Kevin Bonner agrees.
"Sometimes things wasn't done about bad things that go on around school, but now it's like it's in check. I think this year will be a better year," he said.
Kilcrease polled students to find out what they thought about school.
"A lot of them did not know what the graduation requirements were. Although, I know for a fact that the staff talked to them about it but they just didn't seem to have a good understanding," said Kilcrease.
The new principal set academic expectations during July's senior night. Students were given graduation plans or what they call a balance sheet.
"Which pretty much outlines all of the requirements and then tells them and shows them exactly what they have earned, the credits they've earned and also the tests that they've been successful on and what they needed to do next," said Kilcrease.
"When I seen it, it kind of put me where I needed to be at. Like a mindset of what I got do to graduate," said Stewart. "I was missing a couple classes and a test that I had to take. A graduation test that I didn't know about until I got my balance sheet."
Kilcrease wants students to graduate, but also to be college ready.
"Although sometimes students and teenagers get a bad rap for not caring about their own learning, my students care about themselves and so I'm excited for them," she said. She also hopes to increase this senior class' graduation rate to 60 percent or higher.
If you're interested in finding out your school's graduation rate, you can visit http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Documents/2012%204%20Year%20Cohort%20Graduation%20Rate.pdf
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