How distant learning effected McNary students

By Logan Bowlby
May 15, 2022

The 2021-2022 McNary High School graduation rate is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels: right around 90%. It is no secret that distance learning caused massive amounts of disruption for McNary High school students and their education, but one thing that distance learning had going for it was more McNary High school students graduated than beforehand.

During McNary’s Principal Erik Jesperson's first year as principal, the 2014-2015 school year, McNary saw a graduation rate of 82.2%. 

Ever since then, with a minor exception in 2016-2017, the graduation rate continues to climb: 86.4% in 2015-2016, 82.9% in 2016-2017, 86.7% in 2017-2018, 91% in 2018-2019, 91.21% in 2019-2020.

However, McNary saw its biggest single year growth on record during distance learning, jumping to an astounding 96.23%. 

This growth is likely due to a multitude of factors, from lax grading requirements and less instructional time, to the focus being placed on “care and connection” and less of a focus being placed on academics, passing classes became much easier. 

Unfortunately, this outstanding growth was coupled with some of the most tumultuous times in American history. A global pandemic, a racial justice reckoning, and the events of January 6th all challenged McNary students already going through a challenging time in their lives. 

“Unfortunately, most students at McNary have not had a normal High School experience,” said McNary High School principal Erik Jesperson “Kids forgot to “play school” and they missed key developments.”

Freshmen especially demonstrate this loss of key developments. The class of 2025 missed the second semester of their 7th grade year and the entirety of their 8th grade year. During this time students gave up athletics, music, and many other hobbies.

“Once they quit, it is difficult to get them back engaged,” Jesperson said, “That’s why we built the 1:1:1 period into our schedule. ”

This built in 1:1:1 period is an hour long class every wednesday where students can engage in clubs or other activities that they may be interested in. It demonstrates McNary, while refocusing on academics, is still dedicated to building “care and connection.”

While graduation data can demonstrate the success of a school, what really determines whether a school is successful is if the students that attended leave well equipped with the skills they need to pursue whatever they chose to pursue in life. 

By providing a 1:1:1 period where students can pursue their interests, offering a variety of college level AP classes as well as offering culinary, automotive, and graphic design classes, McNary measures up to both these standards.