BY CONSUELO MCABOY
Midland was recently honored for being one of the 100 best communities in the nation for youth.
This is the fifth time the community has won the award.
Consuelo McAboy visited the area to learn what makes Midland a great community for young people.
“United States population is approximately 310 million people. Okay so you guys let’s put that into perspective…”
Cheering for a fellow student, engaging in deep conversation and enjoying each moment of class, those are the sounds of Monique Albright’s sociology class at Midland High school.
Albright has been teaching there for 16 years. She said the thing the school does the most is…
“…we encourage, encourage, encourage. We also encourage that it’s not just four year degrees. It is go to technical school, go to cosmetology school, you need to go beyond high school. There are things out there for you and education is going to be key to the success in your life.”
The graduation rate for Midland High School is around 90 percent, well above the national average of 72%.
Amy Hutchinson is the Assistant Principal. She said the school has programs in place to curb dropout rates.
“There are lots of reasons why students don’t stay in school. A lot of it has to do with home, a lot of it has to do with attendance so those are areas of intervention as well. We monitor attendance closely. We work with our court system and our probation officers and our youth intervention specialist as partners to help these kids get through.”
The school has created specific career pathways to encourage students to continue learning after they receive their diploma.
Walking through the halls of Midland high school, I passed a number of students, all involved in different clubs, organizations and seeking different career paths.
“There’s a wide variety of things you can do from drama club to sports to programming club, and basically like there’s a thing for everybody here.”
“There’s a big sense of community here and my group of friends in my class especially is really close knit and another thing that I like is it’s kind of cool to be smart.”
The “cool to be smart” idea that senior, Gracie Potter described, is why the school offers the IB diploma program.
It’s a two year program that is recognized around the world for its challenging and rigorous curriculum.
But, providing an intriguing community for youth goes beyond the high school walls.
The community of Midland has a number of community outreach programs, designed especially for kids.
Jennifer Heronema is the C.E.O of the Legacy Center for Community Success.
The foundation works with youth to combat the challenges they face.
“We also have a youth development component that looks at some of the challenges youth face. Adolescents don’t think like us adults and that’s true because their brains aren’t as far along as ours. They may be willing as they try to deal with the challenges of growing up and they take risks. What we’re talking about is the risk of doing drugs or turning to alcohol or having sex at a very young age and violent behavior and those things that we’re trying to look at…”
Heronema said the city also offers the Youth Action council and Community Center, providing kids with more outside opportunities.
Kevin Heye is the Executive Director for the Community Center. He said the facility is family focused.
“There’s something for everyone whether it’s just dropping in for the day for a family getaway or more of a recreational program or even some of our competitive programs that we offer too.”
Heye said Midland’s success throughout the years is the result of community collaboration and the unique leadership opportunities the city offers to its youth.