A majority of people take getting a high school diploma for granted. According to a historical review, 1953 was the year when earning a high school diploma became the gold standard for entry into adulthood and financial self-sufficiency. Before that time, most people did not have a high school diploma.  Since then, a college degree and beyond has become the gold standard.

That gold standard has not been the norm for Dohn students.  Despite the almost 70 years that high school graduation was the assumed point of entry into adulthood, Dohn students are often the first ones in their family to earn a high school diploma.  Furthermore, some of our students take six or eight years to complete high school. 

Reasons Why

The 400-year legacy of racism as an economic construct is at the root of why Dohn students are challenged by earning a  basic high school diploma. Their life circumstances are turbulent, tumultuous, and tenuous. They are faced with chronic food insecurity, unstable housing, extreme poverty, and persistent exposure to violence. On any ordinary day, their lives can be on the line. 

The majority of Dohn students come from single-parent households and family lineages where basic survival trumps education Overcoming these persistent challenges by succeeding in high school brings pure joy and a felt sense of accomplishment to our precious youth.

See what earning their diploma means to them — check out our Dohn Panther Youtube Channel, under Videos. The individual graduating ceremonies are standard for all students. If you scroll to the last few minutes of the videos, you will see the tears of relief, the joys of gratitude, and the promising plans for the future that these vital youth experience with the earning of their diploma. 

A few of Dohn’s 2020 Winter graduates are already enlisted in the military. For these youth, we are proud that Dohn has provided them, as they reference themselves, with a sense of community that supports them and an appreciation for discipline that helps them achieve their goals. As these young men go into the military, they have a foundation of what it means to belong, thanks to their life-affirming experience at Dohn.

Other of Dohn’s 2020 graduates are entering careers in the helping profession, social work, and health care because Dohn helped stabilize a sense of themselves and their capacities to care for others.

More than a few of our graduates have children of their own before they have reached 20 years of age. For these students, education is now a priority, and the generational lack-of-education cycle is broken. For many Dohn graduates, as you hear them say in the videos, college is next!

Dohn is the difference in why this group of Cincinnati youth succeeds in earning the necessary high school diploma when generations before them did not succeed in this endeavor. 

Dohn elevates and graduates students that other schools cannot educate.  Our school fulfills a unique function in Cincinnati by helping vibrant, full-of-promise youth secure a high school education. The reasons for this success are many:

  • Leadership with the vision to create educational programming within the Ohio Department of Education requirements that meets these students where they are
  • A Board of Directors that governs Dohn wisely and in fiscally responsible ways
  • Donors and supporters like you who feel the urge to put a stop to racial inequity, and that one lost youth is one too many
  • Teachers and staff who see and respond to the beauty within every student
  • The students, themselves, who blossom and grow in the nutritive climate at Dohn. 

Dohn Graduations Trends_and ComparisonsThe following graphs posted on the Ohio Department of Education site demonstrate this success in pictures that go beyond words. The top chart indicates how Dohn, indicated by the blue bar, towers above any other charter high school in Ohio with the highest number of graduates. 

The bottom graph depicts Dohn closing the gap in the length of time it takes our students to graduate. In this picture, the story told is that in 2016, 25% of Dohn’s students graduated within four years of starting high school. In 2019, this number had jumped to  45%. What closing this gap means is that the students graduate age-appropriately for high school graduation. They have more time to get on with their promising futures and spend  less time struggling for high school diploma success. The real effect of this is less time on the streets, less time floundering with their potential and their dreams for a fulfilled and happy life. 

You are a reason for this success. In the ways that you connect with Dohn, whatever kind and caring support you bring to make this difference between a life floundering through adulthood, or a life of fulfillment, connection and success. As a community, we celebrate this success on behalf of our promising youth. Thank you!