5 Stars for Operation Graduation at Columbia High School

by Sandra Foyt on October 23, 2010

in Uncategorized

Our School Needs Operation Graduation at Columbia High School, East Greenbush, NY

Sorry I haven’t posted much this week, but I’ve been trying to help out a local public high school.

Bing, the search engine developed by Microsoft, is sponsoring the Our School Needs contest where one lucky school will win $100,000. Knowing how schools are struggling, and how this is impacting the most vulnerable students, I couldn’t ignore this opportunity.

With Flipbook at hand, I visited Columbia High School where I saw first hand just how hard school teachers and administrators are working to ensure that every student has hope for the future.

Please help by giving this entry a 5 STAR rating on the Operation Graduation, Columbia High School, East Greenbush, NY page.

The top 5 rated entries in each age level category will be eligible to proceed to the judging round. If we make it to the judging round, we will again need to mobilize our community to vote on the entry. The entry with the most votes will win the $100,000 grand prize.  Voting will take place October 29, 2010 through November 7, 2010.

Here is the entire entry, with slightly better formatting than is available on the contest website page:


Columbia High School needs Operation Graduation because there are students in our district who are dropping out. They need hope for a better future, and we can give it to them with this program.

Operation Graduation is a new initiative at Columbia High School to help at risk students complete requirements for graduation. Funding from Bing’s Our School Needs Contest would allow us to pay for the three essential items needed for OPERATION GRADUATION’S SUCCESS: TEACHERS, COURSEWARE, and BUSING.

Columbia High School is the sole high school serving the East Greenbush Central School District in Rensselaer County, New York. The East Greenbush Central School District’s Board of Education has established that it is the mission of the District "To promote the maximum growth of every child who is served educationally by its programs and services."

Columbia High School houses approximately 1,450 students and offers an extensive educational plan. Our students consistently meet and surpass New York State’s New Standards. In addition, Columbia offerings include: Merit Scholarships; Regents and school diplomas; vocational programs through Questar III (formerly known as BOCES); interscholastic sports and club activities; credits at nearby colleges and evening Continuing Education programs; business-school partnerships; a Career Exploration Internship program; an extensive art, music, and theater program; and a four-year honors program.


Despite exemplary efforts, each class loses 30-40 students over the four years of high school. Columbia High School serves a number of at risk students from a diverse socioeconomic population, and the needs of this community are heavily impacted by the economic recession and concurrent budget cuts. Recent years have seen a record number of student dropouts, but Operation Graduation offers a way to reverse this trend.

Students identified for Operation Graduation have a wide range of needs that must be addressed to empower them to complete the four years of high school. Some of these needs include, but are not limited to: differentiated curriculum specific to the individual student, shorter school days, career development, counseling, and other social needs.

As many of these students are experiencing competing responsibilities, including work commitments, it is important to provide them with flexible school schedules. These may include shorter school days, but also opportunities for extended days to complete course work.


Experienced and enthusiastic teachers are the cornerstone of Operation Graduation. They provide the counseling and instruction necessary to help these students stay in school and meet their goals. These teachers and counselors need to be available during mandated school hours, but also after normal school hours.


New technology, in the form of NovaNet Courseware, offers an opportunity to students who will otherwise lack sufficient credits to graduate from high school. Access to the NovaNet web-based platform allows a student to run through the course materials and assignments for essential, required courses such as Integrated Algebra or Earth Science. Now students, who may have previously failed to earn credits in these classes, can learn the material and complete the assessments necessary to pass the course and earn those credits.


To ensure access to these teachers and the courseware, students need transportation. At this time, our school district is only able to fund a late afternoon bus twice a week. Our school needs funding for a late bus every day of the week so that students in Operation Graduation have sufficient access to teachers and courseware so that they can meet their credit goals in a timely manner.

Funding for a daily late bus will benefit all Columbia High School students because it opens up more opportunities for organized afterschool activities such as clubs and sports. The greater community will also benefit from having teens engaged in positive pursuits.

It goes without saying that our town will benefit from Operation Graduation as it receives a well-educated work force. However, the rewards of this program may be seen well into the future as education has been shown to be the weapon that combats poverty and other social ills through generations.

In funding Operation Graduation, Bing’s Our School Needs contest has a unique opportunity to directly impact our students’ lives now, and through them, our town’s future.

Please help us win funding for Operation Graduation at Columbia High School. Give the entry a 5 Star rating, and pass it on to your friends. Together, I know we can win!

Click on Our School Needs Operation Graduation to give kids hope for the future!

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

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