New graduation plans provide opportunity for entire school team to be part of students’ high school journey

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When Westerville South High School freshman Sam Gurgiolo started thinking about what classes to take this fall, he decided to create a schedule for the remainder of his high school career, outlining course requirements and electives that would set him on a path towards his engineering studies. 

The exercise served as a primer to developing his own graduation plan — a new initiative Westerville school counselors rolled out with ninth- and 10th-graders this week.

“They help visualize where you want to be by your senior year and college,” Gurgiolo said.

Graduation plans offer students a roadmap to follow while in high school, capturing their academic and career goals, tracking their progress towards earning their diploma and building a portfolio of their work-based and service-learning projects. 

Westerville is piloting a new student planning platform called Transeo this year to help students, families, teachers and administrators manage and review that information in a way never done before in the district. 

“What’s exciting about the graduation plan, it’s not just a conversation between the students and the counselor,” said Anne Baldwin, coordinator of Career Tech and College Readiness. “Once submitted, it is sent to families to review and offer feedback and then sent to a school advisor. It is a neat opportunity for the entire school team to be a part of a student’s journey through high school.”

The plans are among a host of new state graduation requirements for the Class of 2023 and beyond. Under the new requirements, students must earn a minimum of 20 credits in specified subjects and earn passing scores in Ohio’s high school Algebra I and English II tests or demonstrate competency through work-based learning, enlisting in the military or earning college credit through Ohio’s College Credit Plus program.

Students also must earn two of 12 graduation seals that enable students to demonstrate academic, technical and professional skills and knowledge that align to their passions, interests and planned next steps after high school. 

To help this year’s freshmen and sophomores and their families learn about graduation plans, Baldwin and high school counselors hosted a live streamed presentation this week. They shared details about how Transeo works and organized breakout rooms to discuss graduation seals. School counselors plan to have sessions for students in the building to help them complete their plans. (Learn more here.) Baldwin hopes to have graduation plans for all ninth- and 10th-graders completed by April 30.

WSHS counselor Jennifer Stovall is looking forward to working with students in developing their plans.

“It helps students have a purpose,” she said. “So many kids come to high school without any direction. Being able to implement this graduation plan will help support students’ mental health by giving them a purpose and a plan.”

These plans can shape the conversations counselors, teachers, administrators and family members can have with students about their plans during and after high school.

“We now have a one-stop shop,” Stovall said. “We can all, as a collective effort, go into this platform and support students.”

Westerville Central High School counselor Erica Guice said these plans enable students to take ownership of what they do in high school.

“They’ll be able to track their progress,” she said. “That’s one of the big things for students — just knowing what they need to do.”

To further support students, high schools will run advisory periods next school year where students can connect with teachers on their progress towards their graduation goals or if they need additional help. 

“In high school, we have so many opportunities for students to explore their passions and interests,” Baldwin said. “Our district’s vision is not to just get students a diploma but it’s to help launch them into their career path and adulthood.”