Round Lake Area Unit District 116 will again have a full-fledged celebration for students who are continuing their education in college or the military.
It's the third consecutive year for Round Lake High School's Senior Decision Day. Officials say the Friday bash is appropriate in a district where college isn't a given for many students.
After beginning with a college readiness rally in Round Lake High's auditorium Friday, an expected 245 students will visit RinkSide Sports and Family Entertainment Center at Gurnee Mills for four hours of fun that'll include ice skating, arcade games, laser tag and food. Donations will cover the tab.
Round Lake High Principal Kurt Sinclair said Senior Decision Day helps to spread the word about the students who have postsecondary education plans.
"I think this culmination event is absolutely fabulous," Sinclair said Wednesday.
Rodrigo Lopez, a second-year college adviser at Round Lake High, said 245 of 436 students in the Class of 2012 were invited to the festivities because they committed to continuing their educations in the armed forces or at a two- or four-year school. That's up from the 215 seniors out of 460 who participated last year.
Lopez said Round Lake High's much improved college counseling system should lead to increased numbers of students attending two- or four-year schools, because they are receiving better information about the admissions process. He said the school also is attracting more college recruiters.
Seeking potential college grants for pupils and navigating financial issues associated with higher education are a focus for the counselors, Lopez said. The most recent 2011 Illinois State Report Card shows 67 percent of the 1,945 students enrolled that year at Round Lake High were from low-income families, with 65 percent considered Hispanic.
"Our students have what it takes," Lopez said. "They just don't have the knowledge. They don't know how to go about it."
Round Lake High posted a 76 percent graduation rate and 6 percent dropout rate in 2011, according to the latest school report card. The state averages were 84 percent for graduation and 3 percent for dropping out.
On the 2010 report card, Round Lake High had an 81 percent graduation rate and 6.5 percent dropout rate. The 2010 state averages were 88 percent for graduation and 4 percent for dropping out.
Sinclair said the ultimate goal is to have 90 percent of Round Lake High students enrolling in college.
Lopez was assigned to Round Lake High through the Illinois College Advising Corps. An offshoot of a national organization, the state program's goal is to boost college attendance and completion by Illinois students, especially those who are underserved, low-income and first-generation. He said his experience as a first-generation college graduate provided him with an understanding of the Round Lake community's needs. Lopez is completing a two-year stay at Round Lake High and will receive other duties with the college advising organization.