KMBZ In Focus: High School Graduation and the Path Ahead

May 19, 2017 - 6:05 am

The story for Friday's KMBZ In Focus is about high school graduation and the path ahead.
One of the top five graduating students at Winnetonka High School is taking her 4.0 grade point average to the art studio.

"Coming into high school, I knew I like art, but now it's like, my passion, and I can't imagine life without it," said McKayla Jameson, 17.

McKayla is not just an egghead who focused only on the books. She has a transcript full of extracurricular activities, including student council, key club, prom committee, French club and National Honor Society.

"Those activities helped me build more friendships and just get involved in the school more," McKayla said.

McKayla is using scholarship money in her pursuit of a fine arts degree at Central Missouri University. She plans on teaching elementary art after that.

McKayla's parents say their Christian faith has a lot to do with their daughter's success. 

McKayla is a role model for her two younger sisters and brother, said Kim O'Hara, McKayla's mother, a special education and reading teacher at Antioch Middle School.

"There are days that I ask what I did to deserve her," O'Hara said. "She actually, in a weird way, is my role model."

O'Hara also gives credit to the staff at Winnetonka High School, where she says the staff does a good job of placing children in positions where they can be successful.

Making the Right Choices for College

The process of choosing a career path and finding ways to pay for training is complicated, so experts say student and parents need to start making decisions by the 10th or 11th grades.

Most kids put off major decisions until at least the second half of their junior years, said Tom Kleese, test prep coach and chief planner with OnCampus College Planning.

"My goal for students is always to make the junior year the heavy-lifting year," Kleese said. "That's when you should nail down the standardized tests, make sure you get the score that you want, be taking a challenging load of courses, doing well in that, exploring a lot of different extracurricural activities."

Kleese helps kids raise their ACT scores.

Students should have a list of colleges they want to attend and start applying at the beginning of their senior years. Test scores are important, but schools are really looking at curriculum choices along with grade point average. 

Institutions of higher learning also look at students' histories of volunteerism. 

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