Jumoke Academy at Dunbar’s eighth grade valedictorian, Gary Predestine, opened his speech by reflecting on all the changes made over the past year.
He spoke of the “fighting and hatred” he experienced in the halls of Dunbar in years past to the hundreds of parents and family members who packed the school’s auditorium this morning.
More importantly, he spoke of the positive changes made — of a learning environment that allowed for the “scholars” at Dunbar not only to succeed, but thrive.
Dunbar was once considered one of the worst schools in Bridgeport. So bad that enrollment had trended downward as students left the school.
Last school year, only one in four eighth graders performed at grade level in reading. Even worse, less than one in 10 performed on grade level in math.
Chronic absenteeism was high and the suspension rate was over 50 percent.
Now, only a year later, the chronic absenteeism is at 6 percent, well below the state average of 11.5. Students for the first time in many years are not only going to school, but want to be there.
Suspensions are down by 20 percent and almost a quarter more students in first and second grade are on track in reading.
The school has seen other changes, not as easily described by numbers and percentage points.
Dunbar parent Anthony L. Anderson Sr, who has been affiliated with the school over the past 10 years and whose son graduated from the school, said that the changes made are “remarkable.”
Anderson said the bar has been raised.
“Students who already did well did better. Student who felt they were struggling last year because of the lack of resources, the lack of involvement of some of the teachers because of children’s behavior, all of that was elevated in the span of one year is nothing less than remarkable,” Anderson said.
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