Talbot County School System celebrates high graduation rates

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TALBOT COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – One of the smallest high schools in the Chattahoochee Valley has one of the highest graduation rates with 41 out of 42 students graduating bringing their graduation rate to 97.6%. Central High School prides itself on helping students achieve their goals of earning a higher education.

Dr. James Catrett, the Superintendent of the Talbot County School System, said seeing such a high graduation rate makes him ecstatic because he sees the challenges students need to overcome in order to graduate.

“Our biggest goal is to graduate our kids, to get them a high school diploma, give them a chance, give them a chance to go out and be successful so, you know, give me high test scores but give me higher graduation rates,” said Catrett.

Central High school averages about 40 graduates every year and Catrett said all of those students either go to traditional universities or vocational schools before entering the work force.

He hopes this high graduation rate serves as an example for the younger students approaching graduation to work hard and aspire for a higher graduation.

JaCari Bledsoe, is a 2021-2022 Central High School senior who is appreciative to the administration for their efforts to get him across the graduation stage. He hopes to be accepted at the University of Georgia where he would like to study business administration and play basketball.

“Many days they have taken off, well I don’t know if for other students but for me, I know for me they stick their necks out for me to get my applications done. Mr. Taylor as the principal makes sure all his students are straight, I can hear him in the hallway now ‘come here, come here’,” said Blesdoe.

Blesdoe works two jobs at Chick-fil-A and Footaction, while completing both dual enrollment classes and high school classes and playing two sports. He said although he doesn’t have to work full-time he does it so he can take a load of his mother’s shoulders.

Jonathan Taylor, the Principal of Central Elementary and High School, credits the high graduation rate to everyone including the teachers, parents and custodians. He believes they all have to work together to make every school year successful.

“I think the goal is to get every single student that starts in the ninth grade to get them to graduate, the goal is to reach 100%,” said Taylor.

He also said regardless of what the students decide to pursue he always encourages them to pursue a higher education.

Dr. Jody Tarleton, the Director of Counseling for the Talbot County Schools, said her biggest goal is to be there for the students when they need and to encourage them to receive their high school diploma.

“I think sometimes they have mixed perspectives on what their goal is and so as we hone in on what their goal is, where they want to be at the end of their educational opportunity it really breaks down the route we need to take to get there,” said Tarleton.

She also said the process that makes it most rewarding for her is seeing the students succeed and achieve their dreams.

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