Newsome High School in Lithia has the highest graduation rate in Hillsborough County with 98.8 percent of students graduating in the 2019-20 school year.

A record percentage of high school seniors graduated from Hillsborough County schools last year and once again Newsome High School in Lithia led the pack with the highest percentage of graduates in the district.

According to the Florida Department of Education’s numbers for the 2019-20 school year, Hillsborough County reached its highest graduation rate in district history at 88.8 percent and Newsome earned the distinction of the highest rate overall in the district at 98.8 percent.

Newsome Principal Katie Rocha credits the entire community for the school’s success.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and in this case, while it starts with the students and their hard work, we have dedicated teachers and staff, involved parents and a supportive community to congratulate,” she said.

The county overall demonstrated an increase from the previous school year with a jump from 86.2 percent graduating in 2018-19 to 88.8 percent in 2019-20. Over the last five years, the district’s graduation rate has risen nearly 10 percentage points.

“As part of our district’s strategic plan, we have worked diligently over the last several years to give our schools the tools and resources needed for student academic success, resulting in increased graduation rates,” said Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively. “We are very proud of Newsome High and appreciative of the school employees, families, volunteers and local businesses who have partnered together to help students reach such an incredible achievement. As a parent of school-aged children, it’s an honor to live and work in a community that understands the importance of investing in students. They truly are our future.”

Rocha, a FishHawk resident and parent who is in her first year as the school’s principal after two years as Newsome’s assistant principal of curriculum, emphasizes the importance of preparing high school students for what comes next.

“I want to do for every single student what I would do for my own kids,” she said. “No matter what they do after high school, whether it be further education or starting a career, we want to put them on a path to a bright future and we are so thankful to every member of the school and community who helps us do that.”

To learn more about Hillsborough County Public Schools’ graduation rates, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.

Newsome High School, located at 16550 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia, can be reached at 740-4600.

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.