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UHS, MHS recognized for getting their students to college

Morgantown and University high schools may be rivals in sports – but the two schools are on the same team when it comes to preparing their students for the next step after they graduate.

Both were lauded last week by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for their work in helping high school seniors – their families, too – make that leap to college freshman.

MHS and UHS were among 45 schools across the state the commission recognized at its “Champion of College Access and Success” ceremony in Charleston.

Preston County High and Fairmont Senior were also named from the region.

To be considered, a school must offer a “college application and exploration week,” along with a specially designated college decision day activity – plus instruction on how to properly fill out a federal student aid application.

Monongalia County Schools traditionally are in the top of the state for its numbers of students who go to college the fall after their high school graduation.

According to the most recent data from the commission, 54.9% of Monongalia students from the Class of 2022 enrolled as college freshmen.

That put the local county behind Putnam and Jefferson’s school districts that year.

Pursuing learning after high school – be it college or career training – isn’t just about intellectual enlightenment, said Sarah Armstrong Tucker, the state’s chancellor for higher education.

It’s about earning power, too, she said.

The chancellor broke it down during the Charleston ceremony.

“As the professional landscape in West Virginia and across the nation changes,” she said, “it is vital that students have some sort of post-secondary education or training.”

That’s also a tie-in to an initiative launched by Gov. Jim Justice known as “West Virginia’s Climb” – which aims to have some 60% of the state’s workforce boasting a formal education credential beyond high school by 2030.

Mon’s district, meanwhile has its feet in both camps.

The higher-than-average college-going rate here is also augmented by plans to have a standalone high school devoted solely to STEM – science, technology, engineering and math pursuits – also open for business, by the end of the decade.

“Our motivation is to get our kids into post-secondary learning, whether it’s a technical program or a college classroom,” Donna Talerico, Mon’s deputy superintendent of schools, said recently.

“The goal is to get them trained for a paycheck.”