Whitney Houston said we are the future. The famous R&B singer is right, so we should be making the world a better place.

Going to school is where it starts.

For the past few years, the school dropout rate has been a major concern in Lenoir County as well as other neighboring counties.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction reported lasted month that area schools have had success in lowering the dropout rate.

Lenoir County had a 7.43 percent dropout rate five years ago, but the latest figures show that number has been nearly halved; the rate now sits at 3.87 percent.

While some may not understand why students even think about dropping out in the first place, others recognize there are factors that contribute to this decision.

At the end of the day, regardless of the reasons students may find to stay in school or drop out, the motivation to attend school — or not — lies within.

Students our age need that push to keep going and to focus on schoolwork. That guidance from another person can make a huge difference. That’s where the word “teacher” comes in.

There are several common reaons students do drop out, including household problems, peer pressure, lack of motivation and apathy or laziness. But we believe our faculty and staff are the ones who help outweigh some of these problems.

The word “teacher” is not the word that should be used for the adults that further our education. “Mentor” is a more adequate descriptor.

Many students at our school are not surrounded by much positivity in their households, but when they get to school they find a place they can call their home.

School can be a much-needed sanctuary for kids who have experienced loss first-hand. Too many current and former students have died from violent crimes in Kinston, yet students now have the chance to find a place in which they feel as if they are secure and protected, and our teachers are the ones who help contribute to this.

Teachers at our school do not just teach us; they give us the inspiration to live better lives. They inspire us not only to be that helping hand but to educate others to make positive choices.
In the 2009-2010 school year, all of the students helped contribute to reaching almost 70 percent proficiency on our state exams, up more than 20 points from three years earlier.

We also have remediation periods during and after school that help students focus more on schoolwork.

Recently we also had the chance to be a part of two programs that started at our school.

Writing Boot Camp (see story on Page 4) was a three-day camp focused on writing skills before the tenth-grade writing test, and the Breakfast Club (our front page story this month) is a morning study session for students who cannot stay after school but need focused review before a test.

Since our teachers are taking the time out of their busy schedules to help us, we believe we should take the time out to thank them for helping us stay focused.

We should also remain motivated to stay in school and continue lowering the dropout rate until it reaches zero.