J.R. Tucker High School fights chronic absenteeism through ‘care, connection, and collaboration’

Hosts free community culture fair to create a safe space that will draw more students back to class
Henrico's J.R. Tucker fights chronic absenteeism through "care, connection, and collaboration" by hosting a community culture fair to create a safe space for al
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:05 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Motivating kids to come to school post-pandemic has been a struggle for many schools nationwide.

It’s called chronic absenteeism, and according to the Virginia Department of Education, it’s when students miss more than 10% of classes in an entire school year.

Here in the Commonwealth, the education department requires every school to meet this mark by a certain percentage as part of their accreditation measures.

Like many other schools across the state, J.R. Tucker says they are working endlessly to meet the required measure.

“Yes, [we are] seeing an improvement from last year,” said Principal Art Raymond. “Last year was a struggle coming off of virtual year, and some of the things creating that sense of belonging has really done what we intended it to do.”

He shares that to solve the problem, administrators at the school wanted to understand why students skip school, so they held a focus group which revealed some eye-opening results.

“Economic, many of our students work to support their families. We have students holding down 40-hour-a-week jobs,” said Assistant Principal Beverley Beale.

She says students also mentioned mental health as a factor, and cultural differences also played a part.

Administrators say Tucker is home to various cultures, and some students struggle with language barriers. So they took this feedback and created a safe space for all students to feel welcome.

This led to the birth of the Culture Fair.

The school began having the fair during lunch, allowing students to share their culture with the student body through things like music and dancing. According to school administrators, students shared that this opportunity allowed them to feel supported and cared about.

They believe “care, connection, and collaboration” is the way to draw more students to stay in school.

J.R. Tucker High School is expanding this culture fair to the entire community.

Students will have the opportunity to show where they’ve come from by participating in a fashion show, a talent show and creating meals from their home country. The event is free to the public at the school on June 3 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.