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Vista High School reports all-time low dropout rate

When Yuma Union High School District reported its impressive dropout rates earlier this month, all district schools were under 3 percent; an historic achievement in its own right.  

However, for Vista High School, the district’s lone small-school option, their dropout rate of 2.7 percent was an even bigger call for celebration. Vista was founded in 1991. In their 32-year history, they’ve never had a dropout rate below 5 percent.

“Our vision for student success at Vista High School is for every student to benefit from a connected, personalized, and growth-focused learning experience,” VHS Principal David King said. “That means that our smaller class sizes, the format of our schedule, and the strong positive professional relationships that our staff build with students all help us to meet each student where they are and support them in staying engaged with a close-knit campus culture.

“One of our points of pride is that our teachers participate in home-visits with our Dropout Prevention Specialist to make personal connections with students and their families when attendance begins to become a barrier to student success. Those strong connections with staff and our amazing Dropout Prevention Specialist, Ms. Arisbey Garcia, are a big part of how we whittle away at that dropout rate.”

All YUHSD campuses employ a Dropout Prevention Specialist as part of their respective guidance counseling departments. The group of Yescina Cuming at Cibola, David Reynoso at Gila Ridge, Edgardo Gonzalez at Kofa, Rigoberto Conde at San Luis, Arisbey Garcia at Vista, Chris Reese at Somerton, and Brenda Smith at Yuma High have been nationally recognized for the role they play in keeping students in school.

“Our main goal is to identify students at risk of dropping out of high school and implement individualized strategies through conducting home visits, making daily phone calls, sending out multiple forms of communication to the families, and working to provide alternative schooling options if the current one does not fit the students’ needs,” Garcia said. “Without the support of EVERY Vista team member, our Dropout Rate of 2.7 percent would not be possible. By providing intentional support for each student’s needs, our Vista team goes above and beyond to ensure students success. Every student receives multiple tiers of targeted support, which might include home technical support, transportation, and social and emotional assistance. Our staff believes that building relationships with every student is an essential part of our Vista High School mission: Vista High School is committed to connected, personalized, and growth-focused learning where every individual is valued and supported to reach their full potential.”

While Vista’s dropout rate has declined dramatically over the past four years, the school has continued to grow. As of August 23, 2023, Vista and Strategies for Success have 275 students enrolled. The school has added programming as well, including Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma’s new cosmetology lab for Career & Technical Education students.

“Many of our students enroll at Vista with established barriers to their attendance and success,” King added. “That means that we are consistently developing and refining our practices to be able to meet every student's needs and keep them connected and engaged with our campus community.”

Eric Patten