Havelock High School topped the state average as well as Craven County’s two other regular high schools with a graduation rate of 93.1 percent, according to statistics released last week by the Department of Public Instruction.
Statewide, the graduation rate is 82.5 percent.
Principal Jeff Murphy said the school was pleased with the graduation rate, which tops last year’s rate of 92 percent.
"We treat each student individually, and we find different ways to help them learn," Murphy said. "We’ll adjust programs to help them individually."
Murphy said a variety of factors account for the graduation rate. He credited Leilani Camden, director of Havelock’s evening school, as well as the school’s credit recovery program.
"It helps those students who get behind," Murphy said.
He said the school’s seminar program allows students who have less than an 85 in any class to spend extra time with teachers and get extra help.
He also said the school’s vibrant extracurricular activities, including athletics, clubs, band and chorus, offer additional support for students.
"The students have extra support from coaches, our band director, our chorus director our club advisors," he said. "They develop relationships with students, and those students develop a niche. Studies show that students involved in extracurricular activities perform better and don’t drop out. I’ve had one band student drop out in my 10-plus years here. That’s a big deal, and our coaches and teachers push those students to excel in the classroom."
Murphy said Cheryl Borton does a good job tracking students who leave due to military transfers, which also helps the percentage.
He also credited the faculty and staff.
"It’s an attitude of the whole faculty," Murphy said. "We want every student to graduate. It’s a philosophy of the teachers. Our teachers work very hard. We are aware of who is at risk and we work with them. We do everything we can to graduate our students."
But, he said, the students have to put in the work as well.
"It is a challenge. We don’t give it away," he said. "It takes work from the students, and we push to get those students through."
Overall in Craven County, the graduation rate increased from 85.6 percent for 2012 to 86 percent for 2013.
Of the other traditional high schools, New Bern High had a graduation rate of 83.2 percent, and West Craven High had a rate of 83 percent.
Craven Early College topped 95 percent, while statistics for Early College EAST in Havelock are not yet available as the new school has not yet had a graduation class.