Thirty-five graduates received diplomas Friday in a Columbia County summer commencement ceremony , with eight graduates coming from Evans High School.
The school needed nine seniors to graduate this summer to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress requirements.
After the ceremony at Grovetown High School, Evans High Principal Don Brigdon said four other students also earned diplomas but chose not to take part in the ceremony. Brigdon expects two more students to graduate once they complete online courses.
With those added graduates, Evans High's graduation rate increases to 87 percent,
2 percentage points more than the minimum standard for this school year.
"It gets harder every year," Brigdon said of the ever-increasing minimum graduation rate, which rises to 90 percent next school year. "But we're putting programs in place to help meet those goals, like the achievement periods all (Columbia County public) high schools are doing next year."
The achievement period is a 30-minute block in the school day for struggling students to seek remediation and for excelling students to take "enhancement" classes, Brigdon said.
Graduation rates measure the number of students graduating high school within four years. Along with scores on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests, they are determining factors in high schools making AYP as set by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Columbia County Superintendent Charles Nagle said last week that Evans High should make AYP once state Education Department officials factor in the graduates from Friday's ceremony.
In all, 47 students earned the necessary credits during summer school to graduate.
Evans High summer graduate Lauren Sanchez, 18, said her diploma means as much to her as it does to classmates who graduated in May.
She also was pleased she could help her school.
"It makes it a little more important to me," Sanchez said of helping her high school make AYP. "I'm glad I could do something to make a difference."
Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.