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July 13, 2014, 6:20 am

Students celebrate high attendance

The Academy at Palumbo, a school of 646 students, improved its overall attendance rate to 97 percent in seven weeks to win the East Region of the national Get Schooled Foundation’s Fall 2011 Attendance Challenge.

The friendly competition engaged nearly 80,000 students from 73 high schools in 17 states, between Oct. 3 and Nov. 18, students through a variety of online, social media and in-school activities. Across all participating schools 1,000 additional students came to school during the course of the challenge.

In the Eastern region, the Academy at Palumbo, motivated by the idea of a national competition and the chance to rally their school around a common goal of improving attendance, worked hard to improve upon their attendance rate.

“We are so proud that our Academy students showed their commitment to their education and their future by showing up to school and participating in the Attendance Challenge,” said Adrienne Wallace-Chew, principal of the Academy at Palumbo.

Kiana Thompson, the Academy’s Roster Chairperson and the school’s Attendance Challenge’s coordinator, said, “As a school, we were trying to think of creative ways to increase school attendance, and the Get Schooled’s Attendance Challenge and Wake-up calls came at the perfect time to help us reach our goals.”

Attendance is the greatest predictor of graduation and a significant driver of student achievement. Research shows that missing just ten days a year can lead to academic problems. Students who miss 20 days a year (or about one month) have less than a one in five chance of graduating from high school.

Few districts report these chronic truancy numbers despite their correlation to low graduation rates.

“Hundreds of students came to school this fall who historically have not,” said Marie Groark, executive director of the Get Schooled Foundation. “Thanks to the hard work of the students and staff, the Academy’s improvement means the school is on the right path to improving its graduation rate.”

To celebrate the school’s achievements, Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom, hosted a red carpet experience for the students, with a “Mission: Impossible”-themed event at the school and preview screenings of “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” at the UA Riverview theatre in Philadelphia for all students.

Get Schooled brought a mix of celebrity encouragement, interactive educational games, and plenty of opportunities to elevate the youth voice, resulting in an average of 2.8 percent attendance rate increase across all participating schools. Schools earned points in the challenge by improving their attendance, nominating teachers who inspire them to come to school, testing their knowledge in an on-line trivia bowl, and signing up for wake-up calls from their favorite celebrities such as Tyra Banks and Trey Songz. There were185 students who signed up for Wake-up Calls from celebrities.

During the Challenge, the Academy hosted a Halloween attendance-focused pep rally with more than 600 students and teachers to celebrate their high attendance rates and to showcase their school spirit.

Academy students also completed 1,050 Sporcle quizzes testing their knowledge about science, geography and hip-hop stars’ real names.

This month, Get Schooled launched another national challenge — this one focused on a key milestone related to students’ likelihood of success in college: completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Details are at www.getschooled.com

Get Schooled is a non-profit organization dedicated to using media, technology and popular culture to improve high school graduation rates and college success rates. Get Schooled connects with young Americans through its combination of on-air programming, online content, on-the ground events and school-based engagement initiatives. Together with hundreds of schools, educators, and students, and boosted by partners like Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Get Schooled motivates and empowers students to make high school education a priority and college education a possibility. To learn more, go to www.getschooled.com or follow Get Schooled at www.facebook.com/getschooledfoundation or www.twitter.com/getschooled.