Principal Danny Coggin thanked Key club sponsor, Bob Donaghy, and members for their involvement in the organization.
“I think it is a great opportunity we give our kids to serve. We want our kids to learn how to give back,” Coggin said.
Walker Valley High School opened in 2001. There were 775 students enrolled. Eleven years has seen a population growth. More than 1,500 students attend the school today.
Originally, the mission statement was to promote wisdom, vision, honor and service in the students. The emphasis was placed on service, Coggin said. A slight change has occurred since 2001.
The new mission statement reads, “Combining yesterday’s wisdom with today’s successes to empower tomorrow’s leaders.”
Opportunities are given at Walker Valley, said Coggin.
“We want to give them the opportunity to grow as students: how to learn, not just want to learn,” Coggin said.
An opportunity for a high school diploma is one of the highest opportunities offered.
“When they graduate from high school they get a handshake from Mr. McDaniel, a fist bump from me and in their left hand is a fake diploma,” Coggin said.
“What that diploma signifies is not the end, but the beginning. It is an opportunity to succeed. We want to give them that opportunity to grow and succeed and be productive members of our community.”
Students at Walker Valley have the opportunity to join one of three academies. All freshmen belong to the Freshman Academy. Students going into their sophomore year have the choice of one of three academies: Business, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or Humanities.
“It is an environment that promotes collaborated learning amongst students and teachers. Teachers and students who have the same mindset are bunched to promote learning,” Coggin said.
Students are permitted to change their emphasis.
“There is a red line that runs across the board. If a student goes into the Business Academy and decides that is not where they want to be, then they can move to another academy,” Coggin said. “We are not going to lock them into something they do not feel comfortable with.”
Exploring is a key point of the academies.
“They do not have to wait until they are 22 or 23 to explore. It does not begin when they have a college diploma. They start that exploration in high school,” Coggin said. “They begin this process in the Freshmen Academy.”
Interest inventories are given to students to see where their strengths and possible career choices lie. A test assessment is given to aid students in choosing the correct academy. The academies and graduation requirements, like financial training, prepare students, Coggin said.
“We are here to prepare the leaders of tomorrow… We want to put a solid education under their feet,” Coggin said. “If we do that, then we are going to train them for the next step. The next step is life. Life happens after high school.”
Coggin said he believes Bradley County has a great school in Walker Valley.
“The current graduation rate for Bradley County is 93.9 percent, which is wonderful,” Coggin said. “When Walker Valley opened in 2001 there was a 30 percent dropout rate… Today, Walker Valley is at 95.2 percent graduation rate.”
Added Coggin, “We are excited about that, because that means education means something to the youth of Bradley County.”