What does it take to graduate in Cottage Grove?


While Cottage Grove High School boasts one of the top graduation rates in the state at 94%, at the Cottage Grove Sentinel we wanted to take a look at what it takes to graduate. 

What is the journey that a student takes to get to the height of high school education? 

What does a student have to do to get from freshman year to senior year and what does that look like.

It all starts with freshman year and the supports that are in place for students. 

A key element of school is the act of attending. 

Two key statistics are that students that are chronically absent are 16 times more likely to not graduate and students that are not on track are 10 times more likely to not graduate. And when a student is both off track and absent, they become 36 times more likely to not graduate. 

“We really want to make sure that we are providing intervention supports for our freshman. That we are working with them and educating them about how credits are important and how attendance is key and important.”

The journey to graduation day starts with freshman year. 

According to the Schools Superintendent Association, a big challenge facing freshmen is what they deem the “ninth grade bottleneck.” The combination of a new school and heavier work load creates challenges for these first year students.  To cope with that, CGHS assistant principal and freshman councilor Kim Scrima works to help get these students to where they need to be. 

“Students by the end of their freshmen year should have 25 percent of their credits. And what they find is if they don’t, those students are far more likely to not graduate. And if on top of that they are chronically absent, we’re looking at kids who are 36 times more likely not to graduate,” said Scrima.

To get students to that point, CGHS has been creating additional ways to support their freshmen. At the beginning of this year, staff and faculty knocked on the door of each freshman to inform their parents of parent night. Additionally, parents will soon be able to stay connected through an app that will show their students’ attendance and grades. 

While parents can play a big role, the student is still the one who, ultimately, makes the decisions. So Scrima works with students so that they understand what they need to do to be successful. 

“The critical message for us right now to them is that your credits do matter. It’s about education and training and what a transcript looks like,” said Scrima. “Do you have to worry about everything you need to do to graduate? No, not now. But you do have to worry about passing the classes that you have.”

As students progress through school, their attendance and grades are being watched to make sure that they can get to graduation. 

“I have a book of transcripts, I go through them every trimester just to see who needs what because I don’t want to miss something that could have been avoided and taken care of a long time ago,” said junior and senior counselor Rex Basting. 

These ways of taking care of classes include summer school, night school and online courses that can get students back on track. 

Students must complete the following requirements before graduating from the South Lane School District and earning a high school diploma. The standards are set by the State of Oregon and the district may add requirements as well. 

75 credits:

12 credits in English Language Arts

9 credits in Social Studies

9 credits in Math (Algebra I and higher)

9 credits in Science with lab experience

9 credits in CTE, applied arts and/or second language

3 credits in Physical Education

3 credits in Health Education

21 credits in Elective

Essential Skills (must show proficiency in):

Read and comprehend a variety of text

Write clearly and accurately

Apply mathematics in a variety of settings 

Senior Boards:

All seniors must complete a 10-minute presentation based on a research paper. Students are given multiple chances to pass the assignment. 


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