County with Struggling Economy Boasts of High Graduation Rate

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

PAGE COUNTY, Va -- The graduation rate for Page County schools is 97.2 percent and that is up 5-percent since last year.

Even though this is good news for the area, the county's high unemployment rate is making it difficult for these grads to stay in the county.

Mitchell Bowers is excited to graduate from Luray High School this year, but he said there are not many jobs in the area for him and his classmates. He said he is lucky he works part time at a restaurant downtown.

"I've had many people ask me, is my place hiring," said Bowers.

Donna Whitley-Smith is the assistant superintendent of Page County Schools and she said she is proud of their high graduation rate this year. She also knows how tough it is for these students to find jobs after they graduate.

"Unless you're an entrepreneur, we have of course a big service industry with tourism and lots of our graduates have made themselves into an entrepreneur and they have been able to start a small business or something that capitalizes on tourism," said Whitley-Smith.

Page County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state and that was why Page County Supervisor Johnny Woodward said a lot of these high school grads will leave the area to find work.

"It doesn't look as appealing to a student that's planning on making a career and staying at home," said Woodward.

Woodward said the good education system should draw more families and businesses to the area eventually, but right now, he said it is not looking good for graduating students.

Bowers said he has tried to stay optimistic and hopes his classmates will do the same.

"I mean I personally just kept looking and eventually I found one," said Bowers.

Woodward said the board of supervisors is working to make Page County more attractive for young workers. He said if some of them move away, he hopes they come back to the county to work eventually.

Whitley-Smith said Page County Schools got that high graduation rate from its programs that help students finish on time. She thanked the teachers, supportive parents and hard-working students for this new record.

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