Majority of local high school graduates seek further education

By Megan R. Harrell

   Yesterday's ceremony at Elizabethton High School concluded this year's pomp and circumstance associated with local high school graduations. With their hard earned diplomas in hand, area students look forward to their next steps in life, and the paths they take will lead many to colleges and universities nationwide.
   Elizabethton High School Principal Ed Alexander expects the majority of his 2003 graduates to further their education to some extent.
   "We have right at 70 to 75 percent that go on to higher education in a college or technical setting," Alexander said. "A small percentage go into the military, and we do have a very small percent that go directly into the work force, but the vast majority go into a college or technical school."
   Many EHS graduates will remain relatively close to home. Year after year the local principal sees several of his students enroll in local or state institutions.
   "In the last five to seven years, most of our students have gone to ETSU, UT-Knoxville, and Milligan, but we seem to have a sizable number going to private schools as well," Alexander said.
   Some of the EHS graduates have been accepted by prestigious private schools such as Fuhrman, Duke, and Wake Forest.
   With a job market that all but demands training beyond a high school diploma, the school's administration is encouraged by the consistently large number of its graduates choosing to enroll in college, but does not downplay the importance of technical training after high school.
   "It is certainly a goal of ours that our students further their education, not necessarily at universities and colleges, but that they further their education somehow," Alexander said.
   It is also the goal of Sonya Culler, guidance counselor at Happy Valley High School, to see her graduates continue their training beyond high school, and she believes continued education has a broad meaning.
   "Not everybody is on the university path, now that there is on-the-job training and apprenticeships, and I consider that continued education as well," Culler said. "The more training you have, the more likely you are to get the higher paying jobs."
   After looking at the transcripts requested for the 2003 graduating class at HVHS, Culler was able to determine that 29 out of the 119 graduates will attend four-year institutions this fall. She stated that approximately 75 percent of those attending four-year colleges will be enrolling at East Tennessee State University.
   An additional 14 graduates will attend Northeast State, or other community colleges, while only a handful will go on to a technical trade school.
   A study on high school graduate statistics completed in 2001 by Tennessee's Department of Labor and Workforce Development gives a broader overview of the entire county. It shows 84 percent of EHS graduates and 57 percent of the graduates from the four Carter County high schools continuing their education.
   Both city and county schools combine for an estimated 37 percent of students moving directly into the work force after graduation, while only two percent enter the military.