Graduation and graduation safety

Posted: May 26th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Helix Highlights | No Comments

By Jennifer Osborn | Helix Highlights

The end of the 2016-17 school year is rapidly approaching, and it’s time to celebrate. Commencement ceremonies for the class of 2017 will take place on Thursday, June 1 at 6 p.m. in Benton Hart Stadium on campus. More than 500 graduates will cross the stage and accept their diplomas. Tickets are required for admission; a limited number are provided to each graduate.

There are plenty of activities leading up to graduation; some celebrate our students’ achievements, and some help them to celebrate safely. One new tradition at Helix is Signing Day, but this Signing Day isn’t just for star athletes committing to play for a university.

All Helix students who have committed to four-year universities are recognized for their accomplishments, then they sign a certificate on stage in the Performing Arts Center in front of family and friends.

Almost 90 percent of Helix students state plans to attend college following high school, and half of those plan to attend a four-year institution. More than 170 students participated in the Signing Day event, committing to around 40 different colleges.

According to the research, education after high school is a critical part of a successful future. College graduates have more opportunities than those who choose not to pursue their education past high school. In fact, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and Workforce, college graduates are set to make 84 percent more over their lifetimes than high school graduates.

Since students will be celebrating before graduation at events such as Senior Prom, as well as after graduation, Cheryl Tyler, math teacher and advisor for the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club, wanted to show students the importance of making good choices. With the help of many students and staff members, she and the La Mesa Police Department coordinated Every 15 Minutes.

Every 15 Minutes is an emotionally charged two-­day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors, which challenges them to think about drinking, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved.

Emergency crews participate in a simulated response to a crash scene in front of Helix High School. (Courtesy Helix Charter High School)

The program’s name was derived from the fact that every 15 minutes someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-­related incident. The program involved students, parents, teachers, emergency response agencies, including police, fire and medical, and other local community organizations.

As part of the program, a crash scene featuring wreckage from actual alcohol-related collisions was staged in front of the school. Approximately 1,200 students from the junior and senior classes attended and watched their classmates play out what happens when a drunk-driving collision occurs. The observers were unaware of the event until they arrive at the scene.

A follow-up assembly took place on the second day of the program, with other portions of the program taking place before and after the assemblies on both days at places such as Sharp Hospital, a mortuary, the police station and the East County Courthouse to take participants through as realistic an experience as possible, exposing them to various aspects of an alcohol-related crash.

Tyler organized the event to bring to light the importance of decisions students might make during this time.

“The goal of the program is to go beyond just being educated and knowing the dangers,” she said. “This will allow them to see the effects and how widespread they are. It will help them think and make better decisions.”

We wish the class of 2017 all the best as they celebrate their last days of high school!

Awards and Recognitions

Helix has been recognized this month by several entities for its excellence.

Helix also was chosen by Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) as a 2016 California Honor Roll recipient. The California Honor Roll is part of a national effort known for its extensive and rigorous analysis of student achievement in public schools.

Members of the Helix class of 2017 attending SDSU in the fall celebrate Signing Day (Courtesy Helix Charter High School)

Helix stood above other schools in the state because of success in getting students to grade level achievement and beyond. The 2016 Honor Roll recognized schools for demonstrating consistently high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement over time, and reduction in achievement gaps., a website that analyzes dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce rankings, report cards, and profiles for every school in the country, ranked Helix the No. 10 public high school in San Diego County. Helix also received an A+ rating in diversity and college readiness.

And finally, US News & World Report awarded Helix its Silver Medal in the annual “Best High Schools” ranking.

—Jennifer Osborn writes on behalf of Helix Charter High School.

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