Initiative encourages high school students to continue education

Jacob Parker

WKU hosted a campaign designed to raise awareness about high school dropout rates, “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen,” last weekend.

The public media initiative, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was brought to WKU by a partnership between the WKU Public Broadcasting and the Educational Talent Search.

Students are recruited to be a part of the program through an application process in the eighth grade, and continue to be a part of the program until they graduate high school.

Barbara Deeb, producer and host on WKYU-PBS, said PBS is pushing the program hard for students to know that education is the key.

“We were in the second batch; they handed out a bunch of these grants,” she said. “They had $15 million to disperse, so we got in on the second round of this opportunity.”

Deeb said dropout rates are lower in this area.

“We are way below the national average in drop out rates, and I don’t know how you feel about it, but one drop out is too many,” Deeb said.

Through a partnership with Darlene Taylor, director of the ETS, they developed a youth media training exercise, where the high school students are paired with students from WKU as mentors.

“The students were trained on how to use video equipment, audio, lighting, the art and skill of interviewing and asking questions, and telling a story,” Taylor said.

Students interviewed each other and recorded video diaries on the importance of high school and why they chose to graduate. The video diaries will air on WKU’s public channel.

One of the students, Raymond Smith, a senior at Warren Central, said in his video that one of the reasons he wanted to graduate was because his sister dropped out.

Smith said he plans to major in broadcasting here at WKU, and that this exercise gave him valuable experience.

“It’s given me a better feel for the subject, and I want to do much more,” he said.

Smith also said that he thinks the program and mentors are helpful.

“They’re there to motivate you and give you the experience you need,” he said.

Louisville senior Jasmine Taylor was a mentor during the exercise.

She said it was good seeing the high school students so motivated about their education.

“It’s really cool to know that they really do care about education to come in on a Saturday morning,” she said.