With nearly a month of school complete students and staff are well on their way to another great school year. With students “finding” new interests over the summer months, many desire class changes to accommodate their new interests. Spearfish is fortunate in that we have numerous class offerings to fully prepare our students for college and career readiness. 

Spearfish students continue to graduate at a high rate - 96% on time and a 99% completion rate. We won’t be happy until that number is 100%. 

This will be the first full year of the “new” graduation requirements. South Dakota’s current requirements for graduation were passed by the Board of Education Standards on July 16, 2018. Those requirements are outlined in South Dakota Administrative Rule 24:43:11. The requirements include a base of required coursework and the ability for students to earn endorsements on top of that base. The requirements are designed to provide flexibility for students to meet their postsecondary and career aspirations within a framework of general requirements. 

The new graduation requirements are structured in a similar way to college majors. All students pursue the same diploma but in addition to meeting the high school diploma course requirements, students may also earn advanced endorsements. These advanced endorsements are similar to college majors, signaling the coursework they have taken has a specific focus. Using that same idea, a student might have one major, or a double major or even a triple major! 

I urge each high school parent to talk with your student about plans they may already have for life after graduation. Discuss courses they have already taken or plan to take to help them achieve their goals. Discuss any potential gaps between their course plans and their post-graduation goals. Review with your child the personal learning plan they have completed or are working on through SDMyLife.  Think about how best to help your child ensure that the path they are on in high school will help them achieve their goals for a career and/or further education after high school graduation. 

Make sure your student talks to the SHS counselors and continues to solidify the graduation endorsement of their choice. Don’t allow your student to accept just the basic path.  

Students need to explore options for life after graduation. If students have not decided on a path after graduation, they should seek opportunities to help them make those decisions (consider work-based learning experiences, dual credit courses, career and technical education courses or other course offerings that help them explore). All South Dakota students in grades 6-12 have free access to a career and college exploration program, called SDMyLife. You can access SDMyLife at www.sdmylife.com

Students should pursue rigor. Plans may change between the freshman and senior year. Few students don’t change their plans, again the reason to choose multiple endorsements. Pursue challenging courses that allow exploration and that provide rigor. Course selection is important. In most cases, more important than worrying about GPA and class rank. Choosing rigorous courses will assure that a student is ready for anything that student ultimately decides to pursue after high school graduation.

It is up to each student to “find their path.” Parents cannot and should not choose a career path for their children. Each student must make the best of their life as “Life is what you make it!”  Students must choose a career path they are passionate about. Work does not need to be work – look for a passion, not a job. SHS teachers will prepare you for that passion. 

Parents must also understand that there is nothing wrong with a student who doesn’t know what he or she wants to do. There are numerous careers for every student, each will figure it out in time. Many students change their major in college, there is nothing wrong with that. With research and support students will, sooner or later, make the correct decision on a career path. 

As stated in the SDMyLife book – “You only fail when you do not adapt and learn. If you discover a major or career choice is not right for you, change it and persevere.”

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” ~Henry Ford

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