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New IHS principal makes graduation rates a top priority

Jason Trumble was made principal of Ithaca High School on Jan 21,2015.

Ithaca High School’s new principal plans to increase the school’s 91 percent graduation rate during his tenure by building on the school’s AP course offerings and focusing on forming connections within the school.

The school’s graduation rate already exceeds the New York State average. According to the New York State Department of Education, the state’s average graduation rate was at 74.9 percent, as of 2013. IHS’s graduation rate is 91 percent.

“You don’t see Ithaca High School students exit out successfully and flunk out college,” the new principal, Jason Trumble, said.

Trumble has been with the Ithaca School District for more than 20 years. He spent 11 years as a social studies teacher, cross-country and track coach at the school. In 2012, Trumble returned to IHS as the assistant principal and in 2015, became principal.

The location of IHS influences the need to strive towards reaching 100 percent graduation, Trumble said.

“Being in the college town that we are in, the community’s expectations are very high at Ithaca High School. They expect students to be accurately prepared for a high level of college,” he said.

Trumble attributes this to the high amount of preparation at the school. The school offers AP courses that students can use as college credit, as well as numerous after-school programs. According to Trumble, 90 percent of IHS students go on to four-year colleges, but there’s still work to be done.

Jay True, a board member on the Ithaca City School District, said the goal is possible but might be more long-term.

“I think it’s a wonderful goal, I support it 100 percent. It may take some time but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.”

The district enjoys a $113,774,956 budget compared to its neighbor, the Cortland Enlarged City School District, which is $47,504,329, according to their 2014-15 budget report.

Esther Racoosin, a parent and co-Vice President of Communications for the school’s PTA board, shared her thoughts on why IHS would want to reach a higher graduation rate.

“If a school strives towards a 100 percent graduation rate, it indicates that the administration recognizes that students have different learning styles, and will attempt to form a variety of curricula that will accommodate and support the entire student body,” Ms. Racoosin replied.

Racoosin also said that high schools tend to have certain cultures that influence how students learn and how the curriculum is designed, therefore it’s important to be in touch with the school’s environment.

Forming connections with students are also key to a students academic success, Trumble believes.

“It’s all about relationships. I grew up in a pretty small town where everybody knew me and my family. Your teachers knew who you were. That presents an interesting challenge for 1400 plus students here at IHS,” Trumble said.

Beth Hardesty, a secretary at IHS, meets with students on a daily basis and knows the ins and outs of high school. Based on her experience, she said, Trumble’s administration could benefit students.

“A stable leadership is important for the kids. Mr. Trumble is great at seeing everything we’ve done so far and being appreciative of it,” she said.

“Previous principals have cited the school board’s interference in the day-to-day management of the school as one of the reasons why there has been so much turnover at the school. I’m

hoping the school board gives Mr. Trumble the support he needs without micromanaging him,” Lori Sonken, a parent for an IHS student, said.

Although Trumble doesn’t have a specific timetable for increasing the graduation rate, he says that under his watch, no student will get left behind.

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