ESHS receives grant from Arkansas School Recognition Program
The Arkansas School Recognition Program has awarded Eureka Springs High School a grant of $19,042.56.
High school principal David Gilmore said the grant is a result of the school's high test scores and higher-than-average graduation rate. He said the school’s graduation rate is at 89.74 percent, beating the state average of 87.97, and the school is 11th in the state when it comes to test scores.
"For years, the state department has been putting out funding to help those schools that are struggling and in need," Gilmore said, "but they've also started to fund those schools that are getting high test scores and graduation rate."
Gilmore said the graduation rate is so high because of the hands-on learning that happens at the high school. That includes the FFA, EAST lab, Skills and C4, Gilmore said.
"We hope those programs will keep students interested and on track for graduation," Gilmore said. "Those things have been a really big help, and the school board has been good backing us on that."
Gilmore continued, "The new greenhouse program is doing really well. All the programs encompassed together … are what's helping us with our graduation rate. We want to keep those numbers high. We also want to keep our test scores high."
To maintain high test scores, Gilmore said, the school does interim assessments throughout the year to practice for end-of-the-year testing. When students do well on the ACT Aspire, Gilmore said, they have a much better chance of doing well on the ACT.
"That ultimately leads to them taking the ACT their junior year and hopefully getting a lot of scholarships from that and opportunities for post-high school education, like colleges or trade schools," Gilmore said.
Many students at the high school are "bubble kids," Gilmore said.
"They're just a few points from getting up there," Gilmore said. "We have excellent students."
For those students, he said, the school provides after-school tutoring and an advisory period where they can seek extra help.
"We really try to focus on that," Gilmore said. "We want to get those kids where they need to be — to keep those ACT scores high so they can have great opportunities in college."
The school can use the grant money in different ways, Gilmore said, from hiring additional staff to buying supplemental materials. He said he's working with a committee of parents and teachers to figure out how the school can best spend the funds.
"We want to maintain what we have and try to encourage more growth," Gilmore said.
That growth is the result of the entire school district, he said.
"They're getting them ready in pre-K all the way through," Gilmore said. "Our elementary and middle schools are doing a great job keeping students on track, so when they get to us, they can run with it. There are great things going on at the district here. We're very pleased to get that money."
Gilmore said he's grateful to work at the high school.
"I'm just a very blessed principal. I feel like I hit the lottery at this school," Gilmore said.
He thanked the community for its support over the years.
"We have this amazing facility that was passed through the millage here," Gilmore said. "Our community backed us when we needed it. We're just so happy to have our facilities, and we try to give back to the community as well."