Hillhouse graduation rate soars; state sees all-time

Hillhouse High School in New Haven (file).

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Efforts to identify at-risk students and get them help seem to be paying off at Hillhouse High School, as the graduation rate soared over the past four years.

It’s far from a normal day in AP English Literature at Hillhouse, when the governor drops in, to pop quiz the soon-to-be college-bound students. Those like Coral Ortiz, who’ve been accepted to several Ivy League schools.

“I saw my peers work twice as hard because they knew they needed to prove everyone in the room wrong and more,” Ortiz said.

Graduation rates show that Hillhouse in New Haven now graduates over 80.4 percent of it’s students, compared to 54.9 percent in 2012. City officials credit their focus on truancy and efforts to work with students struggling with behavioral issues and keeping them in the school, surrounded by a learning environment.

“We had an average of 85 expulsions a year,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. “This year we have five. So we keep kids in school.”

The statewide graduation rate is also up to an all-time high, 87.4 percent.

“After five years of decline, we’ve had six years of increase,” Governor Dannel Malloy said. “An increase beyond our prior highest graduation rate in the state’s history.”

Fresh off their latest state championship in basketball, now Hillhouse is looking to create a new legacy of excellence. This time, in the classroom.

“When people told us we couldn’t, we did it,” Ortiz said. “And when people tell us we won’t be able to do it, we will do it.”

The national graduation rate is 83.2 percent.

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