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BLADENBORO, NC (WWAY) — It was a year ago that West Bladen High School made headlines for several incidents on campus. But a new school year and a new principal have put the school in a whole new light.

At the beginning of the school year principal Todd Finn told WWAY West Bladen will be a whole new school over time. Within one school year the positive changes can already be seen.

As you walk into West Bladen High School you’ll see test scores hung up throughout the school. Former basketball coach turned educator Finn says it’s motivational tools like this that have changed the overall morale of the once questionable school.

“Our whole mindset coming in was that we were going to give the kids so much that they are not going to want to lose it rather than strip them down to nothing where they have nothing to lose,” Finn said. “All too often that’s how we do things in American schools.”

One of the things the administration at West Bladen has given students is responsibility. You will no longer hear bells at the high school. It’s up to students to know when it’s time to head to their next class. Finn says this move has cut back on tardies.

The drop out rate has also decreased while academic scores have increased. It’s all attributed to the school’s new approach on running a school. It’s a school where the principal himself will teach a class each semester, getting involved with the students he oversees.

“When you see scores on EOGs as high as 98 percent in Algebra II, when you see 92 percent in civics, schoolwide two semesters in a row to come in at 80 percent when they never got higher than a 67 in the past in just one year, that’s all about these kids,” Finn said.

So what do students think of all the changes? Senior Lorenzo Drew admits not wanting to come to school last year. Now he doesn’t want to leave.

“I think it’s going to get even better next year,” Drew said. “I’m going to be jealous, because I’m not going to be here to see it, but I’m going to be happy I’m graduating.”

Graduation for West Bladen High School is Saturday. Principal Finn says this year is the first time in school history that the senior class grew in size over the school year, as several dropouts came back to school to get their degree.

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