MACON, Ga. — Thursday morning, the State Department of Education announced their 2022 graduation rates.
Statewide, the department says it passed 84 percent this year.
That means more than 5 out 6 rising ninth-graders graduate within four years.
That rate has risen more than 14 points in the last 10 years.
In a statement Thursday, Superintendent Richard Woods credited the hard work of the teachers and students who persevered through the challenges of the last several years.
One Bibb County School, also set a record.
Central High School set a new county graduation rate of 90.14 percent.
Principal Chendra Dupree says it all started when COVID-19 hit.
"We became a lot more innovative when COVID hit, of course, I knew that I had to put a strategic plan in place, because I knew there would be some losses for students not being in school for two years," says Dupree.
So she says she hired a graduation coach. Dupree says the coach constantly tracks all the students to make sure they are successful. She also says she put a no cell phone policy in place
"I actually noticed the students being more engaged in what they were learning because they weren't able to have their cell phones during the instructional time," Dupree adds.
She says students were on board with the process.
"I've seen them buy in to what were actually doing they believe in the cause and they take ownership," says Dupree.
She adds that their cooperation is most important, "We can run a school. We can only do so much. The students have to also take ownership on their learning, they have to take ownership in their behavior. I couldn't have been more blessed to work at a better school."
We talked to one of these student Chargers, Devin White.
White is a senior at Central, he says he's a legacy student. His parents and brother are all former chargers.
"Being here at Central, it has set me apart," says White
He says central has given him leadership skills, discipline and consistency
"With the graduation rates increasing this year, I'm not surprised," he says.
He credits that in part to the no cell phone policy, "With the things that we had implemented between last year and this year with the no cell phone policy it has really made an impact not just on my education but on my peers."
White says the graduation coach has played a big part as well.
"Working one-on-one with our graduation coach Ms. Corbin, it's an experience. Not only are you getting everything you need to be prepared for college, but you're also instilling the things you need to be an adult," White says.
He plans to graduate on time, and he has big plans
"I'm going to school on a Junior ROTC scholarship, after that I plan to go into service as a mechatronics engineer,"
He says he's looking at going to West Point, Howard University or Tuskegee University, saying that he thanks God and Central for getting him to this point.
Dupree says Central plans to remain consistent in what they're doing and find more innovative ways to help their students.