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School among few where all graduate

Lincoln Charter School is one of only 23 schools in the state being honored Tuesday for having a 100 percent high school graduation rate.

The school was informed of the honor by June St. Clair Atkinson, State Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, on September 16.

Chief Administrator Dave Machado will attend the awards luncheon in Durham along with Jonathan Bryant and Melissa Lasarsky — also members of the school’s staff ‑‑ and Dia Harrill, president of the Charter School Board.

The school is in its 14th year of existence and is the third-largest charter school in the state.

“When we were first chartered, we had to have a specific mission,” Machado said.

“Our mission has been to be a college preparatory school from the beginning.”

Machado and school counselor Becky Engle said that setting goals for education after high school graduation are instilled in students from kindergarten through 12th grade. “Even the kindergarteners skype with previous graduates who are now away at college, so they get to see what it’s like to be in college from a very early age,” Engle said.

The high school campus for Lincoln Charter School is located off Highway 16 in Denver. Around 350 students attend the high school. Machado and Engle both credit the small size of the high school as being part of the reason for the 100 percent graduation rate.

“Because of the size of the school, we develop a close relationship with the students and are able to quickly recognize problems,” Machado said.

“We not only know the students, but we know their parents as well.”

Planning and goal setting is a key aspect to the students’ success.

“We are always trying to help the students see the future and what they can accomplish,” Engle said.

“During their high school years, we take them on visits to several colleges and universities so they can see the differences in what type of schools are available.”

This year, freshmen will visit Lenoir-Rhyne University, sophomores UNC-Charlotte, juniors Wake Forest and seniors Appalachian State.

Additionally the school’s top two juniors and top four sophomores will travel to Massachussetts to visit Harvard.

“These students are highly capable of entering a school such as Harvard, so we want them to see what Harvard is like.”

Last year’s graduating class of 62 students was offered $4.3 million in scholarship money to continue their educations. Of the graduating class, 65 percent of the graduating class enrolled in four-year college programs and 35 percent enrolled in two-year programs.

Engle said the programs students enter are as diverse as the students themselves, with fields that include medicine, engineering, art, teaching and business.

Machado and Engle are not discouraged about the school’s recently reported slight decline in SAT scores from 2010 to 2011.

Machado said, “91 percent of our students take the SAT, whether they have to or not. We are among the highest participation rate for the test of any school in the state, so we expect some fluctuations in scores.”

MARTHA K. SEAGLE, Staff Writer

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