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Florence 1 Schools achieves highest graduation rate ever

FLORENCE, SC--For the fourth year in a row, Florence 1 Schools’ graduation rate has surpassed the state’s, according to the newly issued state report card. In 2021 Florence 1 had a 91.2 percent graduation rate, the district’s highest graduation rate ever, compared to the state’s 83.3 percent.

In 2020, Florence 1 as a district ranked 36th in the state. This year, out of more than 80 school districts, Florence 1 is ranked 10th.

Two of the district’s three high schools, South Florence and Wilson, also had their highest graduation rate ever, 92.3 and 91.7 percent respectively. West Florence’s graduation rate dropped slightly but was still above the state average at 90 percent.

South Florence Principal Shand Josey said that creating programs to keep students engaged while also preparing them for college or a future career is crucial.

“We set a goal at South Florence for academic excellence for all students and, despite the hardships of 2020-2021, our students pressed on toward the finish line of high school graduation,” Josey said. “The key to our success has been our commitment to meeting each student's needs on an individual basis and providing them with the necessary support systems to be successful. I am extraordinarily proud of the SFHS graduating class of 2021 for their hard work, dedication, and achievements in reaching the milestone of high school graduation.”  

Wilson Principal Eric Robinson said that Wilson’s graduation rate has continued to rise over the last several years thanks to the hard work and commitment of both students and staff.

“I am very excited and proud of the increase in our graduation rate,” Robinson said. “Last year was even more challenging than normal, but the Seniors in the Class of 2021 overcame all the obstacles. I would also like to thank the teachers and our school counseling department for our success too.”

With the new graduation rates in the books, South Florence and Wilson’s ranking among South Carolina high schools jumped significantly. In 2020, South Florence was ranked 193 out of high schools in the state; in 2021, it is ranked 46th. Wilson was ranked 119 in 2020 and is 56th in 2021. West Florence is now ranked 91st.

Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley said it is amazing to see the amount of change that has taken place.

“If you look at the district’s graduation rate a decade ago it was not even 80 percent,” O’Malley said. “Compare that to now, where all three of our high schools are 90 percent or above, and you can see the transformative journey that Florence 1 Schools has been on. I am incredibly proud of the progress that has been made.”