HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – An alternative high school program for dropouts and students at risk of dropping out was recognized with a national award for its graduation rate.

According to a news release sent to 22News by Holyoke Community College, the Gateway to College program at HCC was awarded the award for Graduation Achievement in June at Achieving the Dream’s K-12 Partnerships Institute in Portland, Oregon. Achieving the Dream looks after the national Gateway to College network.

The award recognizes participating Achieving the Dream institutions that exceed the graduation benchmark of 50% established by the Gateway to College national network. HCC’s 3-year graduation rate was 88% (2019-2021). The national average was 68%.

“Despite the obvious struggles of the past two years, you and your colleagues across the Gateway network have persistently done everything you can for your students,” Stephanie Davolos, director of K-12 Partnerships for Achieving the Dream, wrote in a congratulatory message to Vivian Ostrowski, HCC’s Gateway to College director.

“HCC’s graduation rate at 88 percent is well beyond your long-strived-for 80 percent goal. I am thrilled,” Davalos said. “You and your team are leading the way for our network and our field. Our network’s continued improvement is due to exemplary programs like yours and your outcomes will have an impact well beyond your community. We know these student outcomes are the product of the culture of relentless kindness, constant reflection, program improvement, and a tremendous amount of hard work and care.”

Since 2008, almost 500 students have earned their high school diplomas through HCC’s Gateway to College program, which has received the national award for Graduation Achievement multiple times in past years along with Gateway national’s Program Excellence Award in 2016 and 2017.