Pocahontas County High School Option Pathway teacher Emily McLaughlin stands with one of the several murals in her classroom which offer students encouragement as they work toward their high school equivalency diplomas. This mural was painted by Cheryl McLaughlin Beverage. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Everyone can relate when a teenager complains that high school is hard. The requirements may have changed through the years, but the pressure to succeed remains the same.

For years, if a student got tired of school or decided they couldn’t handle the pressure anymore, they simply dropped out. Some of those dropouts went on to get a GED, but more often than not, they entered the workforce without a degree.

Taking issue with the dropout numbers and the stigma of the GED test, the West Virginia Department of Education established Option Pathway – a new way to keep students in school and help them get a high school equivalency diploma.

Pocahontas County High School implemented the program in 2012 and. since then, has seen an increase in students receiving their diplomas.

Three years ago, Emily McLaughlin became the Option Pathway teacher…

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