Plan to increase graduate numbers in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

Both Fresno Unified and Clovis Unified schools started on Monday. Even though it's the first day of school, Fresno Unified is asking students to focus on the future.

It's back to school for nearly 79-thousand students at Fresno Unified. And this year, the fourth largest school district in the state has a new strategy to get students to graduate from high school.

It's called the "I pledge" campaign. On the first day of school every student at every campus in the district is being encouraged to focus on the future, and set goals to make sure they graduate on time with opportunities for college and career.

Vang Pao Elementary Vice Principal Kristina Montez said, "Our focus at Fresno Unified is to really make sure our students are prepared to go into the workforce and/or college. And we'll even go into the first and kindergarten classrooms to make sure that's what's expected of them."

As part of the campaign schools held assemblies where teachers and administrators wore t-shirts from their alma mater, favorite college or trade profession.

Montez said, "That's what we are, we're their role models."

Each student was also given a sticker with their graduating year and were asked to sign pledge cards to commit to completing the twelfth grade.

The idea is to improve Fresno Unified's 70% graduation rate and to reduce the number of dropouts.

The campaign supports the work of the graduation task force, a collaborative effort between Fresno Unified, community members and business leaders.

By taking the pledge administrators say students learn an important lesson that education is the key to success.

Caroline Kong said, "I just keep thinking about it and probably just go for what I want."

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