The HCC Gateway to College program, which takes high school dropouts and puts them in college classes, leads the nation in both retention and graduation rates.
The Spring 2014 report from the National Network of Gateway to College lists the program at Holyoke Community College number one in both fall-to-fall "persistence" rate (87 percent) and graduation rate (80 percent) out of all 43 Gateway to College programs for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The network average was 53 percent for "persistence" (retention) and 27 percent for graduation.
The Gateway to College program gives second chances to high school students who have either dropped out of school or are at risk for dropping out by enrolling them in college classes. Students earn both their high school diplomas and college credit.
HCC's largest Gateway class ever graduated June 9, with 26 students from Amherst, Palmer, Holyoke and Springfield receiving their high school diplomas. Along the way, the Class of 2014 also amassed a total of 387 college credits.
Since 2010, 142 students have earned their high school diplomas through HCC's Gateway to College program.
Photos:(Left) Gateway students flip their tassels after their June 2014 graduation. (Right) Gateway staff celebrate graduation with a student in 2013. (Thumbnail) June 2014 Gateway graduate Desriana Perez and Gateway director Vivian Ostrowski.