LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools' Academies of Louisville program celebrated success Tuesday after record graduation rates and the hiring of seven Pleasure Ridge Park High School graduates into welding jobs.

The Academies of Louisville program at JCPS began five years ago with the intention of preparing high school students for trade jobs after graduation.

Four-year graduation rates have inched up in Jefferson County since the 2017-18 school year to 84.7% during 2021-22. According to JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio, the graduation rate is at an "all-time high" and all schools in the district had a graduation rate above 80% for the first time.

Pollio said this record graduation rate can be attributed, in part, to the success of the Academies program. He also said the rate of students ready for college and other post-secondary work is the "highest it's ever been," at 72%. 

One example of the Academies program's success is the partnership between Pleasure Ridge Park High School's welding program and WireCrafters, a wire product manufacturing company. PRP sends students to work with WireCrafters as part of a co-op. Seven graduates of PRP who were hired by WireCrafters all participated in the co-op program, and six current students are enrolled now.

"It's a really great experience, because I'm hands-on everywhere I go," said Danielle Robert, one of the student welders. "And I can really put my thought process into the things that we build and all of the projects that we do and everything. It's just a good experience in the classroom."

JCPS said its students earned more than 3,000 industry certifications last year.

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