Mason, Neighboring Districts meet to discuss graduation seals

Ann Vettikkal | Staff Writer

In a recent collaboration, neighboring school districts have come together at MHS to set the standards that could lead to alternative paths toward graduation. 

Representatives from more than 20 schools gathered to discuss the state’s recent rollout of nine new graduation seals. On January 31st, counselors and administrators from Cincinnati Public, Lakota, Lebanon, Fairfield, Madeira, and other Cincinnati schools gathered to discuss three seals in particular: Student Engagement, Performing and Fine Arts, and Community Service, seals with requirements that are to be defined by each district, as opposed to other seals which are mandated by the state. Assistant Principal Amy Hull explained the rationale for meeting with other districts to collectively plan out the criteria. 

“As we were talking about [the criteria], we were like, ‘what is everybody else doing?” Hull said. “And then we decided to invite everyone here. The other part is that if we’re all together on it, students who are transferring between school districts will have an easier time.”

Hull discussed the importance of these seals: They offer an alternative path to earn a high school diploma, in lieu of standardized tests. 

“From my understanding, the Ohio Department of Education is really trying to get alternative ways for students to earn graduation,” said Hull. “Some students may not have a traditional pathway or they may struggle. It’s just giving more options.”

For those who attended, like Madeira High School counselor Vince Rahnfeld, coming together to talk about unsettled matters fostered an important exchange of ideas. 

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions and lots of things that the schools are trying to figure out,” Rahnfeld said. “It’s hard to get everybody together but it’s really important to do that. You can get ideas about how you’re going to handle these things.”

Before the mandates begin to go into effect for the class of 2024 (or earlier), there are plans for the schools to meet again. Rahnfeld talked about his progress as part of the smaller group tackling even more options for graduation as well major takeaways of the whole event. 

“We need to have individual graduation plans for students,” Rahnfeld said. “Some difficulties for us are being able to develop systems of tracking. I don’t know that there were any conclusions, but there were some great ideas in this early stage. I think all of us are going to take some ideas that we can make work for our districts.”

Photo by Ann Vettikkal.