McCluney and Morrow

REaCH principal Jeremiah McCluney (right) received a certificate from Phillip Morrow, Rutherford County Schools Board of Education chairman, at the Monday night meeting. REaCH was honored by the board because it has had a 100% graduation rate for the past 10 years.

FOREST CITY — The 2019-2020 school year will be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Rutherford Early College High School (REaCH), it will also be remembered as the 10th consecutive year that the school posted a 100% graduation rate.

The Rutherford County Board of Education honored the school for this accomplishment at its board meeting Monday night. School Superintendent David Sutton presented Jeremiah McCluney, REaCH principal, with a certificate commending the school for the milestone.

REaCH, is a nontraditional public high school, is located on the campus of Isothermal Community College (ICC) in Spindale. Serving approximately 200 students, it is a school of choice, to which students apply and are selected through a lottery process. The curriculum is rigorous, with students taking both high school and college courses offered through ICC.

McCluney says the school’s comprehensive support system is a major part of its success.

“We teach the students, from the beginning, things like how to advocate for themselves, the importance of reaching out to instructors, how to construct an email to an instructor, and time management,” McCluney said. “We also do a lot of team-building exercises. We really try to build a family atmosphere here. We want REaCH to be a place where the students enjoy coming to school. We want them to feel like they belong here.”

He also cited peer mentoring, mentoring from instructors, and homework assistance. McCluney also says the strength of the partnership with ICC is important.

While the REaCH students have largely remained on campus during the pandemic, some students are opting for remote learning and all of the students on campus have had schedules altered to accommodate social distancing.

“COVID-19 has made this year more difficult. It’s been tough,” McCluney said. “But we have had good support from parents and the community.”

McCluney is encouraged, and wants the 2020-2021 year to again have a 100% graduation rate.

“I’m still vey hopeful for that,” he added.

There were 44 students in the 2019-2020 REaCH graduating class. This is McCluney’s eighth year as REaCH principal. The school was established in the fall of 2005.