Congratulations to this year’s graduating seniors

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Commissioner Wayne D. Lewis
Commissioner Wayne D. Lewis

It is hard to believe that the end of the school year is closing in fast. In just over a month’s time, Kentucky’s high school seniors will march across a stage in front of their families and friends, smiles on their faces, proud of their accomplishments and so eager to see what the future has in store for them.

For this year’s graduates, I want to be one of the first to say congratulations. Your hard work and your persistence are bearing fruit as you leave your graduation ceremony with your diploma in hand. I wish you the best in your future endeavors, whether that means going directly into the workforce or continuing your education at a college or university. You are the future of our great state, a future that I believe will be bright and prosperous.

Part of my optimism about the future of Kentucky is based upon what is occurring in classrooms across Kentucky. Across our commonwealth, students are engaged in academic standards-aligned, rigorous learning experiences. Some of those experiences are in reading, mathematics, science and social studies. Other experiences are in diesel mechanics, automotive technology and industrial maintenance. Here are a few examples.

The students of Ohio County High School robotics instructor Brian Barrett are fixing and refurbishing broken Buster the Bus robots that are used to teach bus safety to young children. These students are learning real-world robotics skills while helping ensure the district has a valuable tool to help keep its youngest students safe.

At Louisville Male High School in Jefferson County, students in Angela Page’s Advanced Ecology class are gaining a new understanding of the waters that shape their lives by spending time on and along the Ohio and Beargrass Creek studying water quality and related issues. These students are gaining skills in chemistry, forestry, botany and other disciplines that used to be only taught at the college or university level.

And then you have students like the ones from across Kentucky who serve on the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council. I got the chance in February to meet with them and they shared a top 10 list of issues they would like to address, and in March we brought them back together with additional KDE staff to dig deeper in a few of those areas. I continue to be impressed by how thoughtful and insightful this group of students is. Their concerns include things such as improving supports for the mental health of students, increasing diversity among the teacher workforce and improving individualized career planning. These are all priorities for KDE as well and I look forward to working on some of these together.

All of these experiences are preparing Kentucky students for success during the next phase of their academic and professional lives.

While Kentucky’s students are impressive, and our teachers are incredible, we all know that their achievements are impossible without the support of their families and extended support networks. Family involvement matters.

In closing, I want to make sure everyone is aware that Kentucky schools will soon will begin administering the annual K-PREP tests. Beginning in grade 3, these tests help evaluate how much students have learned over a school year in certain subjects and give us an idea of the strengths and areas for growth for each student, school and district. During this important testing window – which is within the last 14 instructional days of the school year – let’s encourage children to do their very best work on tests, make sure they get enough sleep and eat a good breakfast every morning.

Your support for your child’s education is so important. When you remind your children to do their homework or ask them about their assignments, it shows them that what they are learning at school is important to you. As a former classroom teacher, I can tell you that kind of support and encouragement from home makes a tremendous difference in your child’s school success.

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