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Students Sound Off: High Schooler Erin Rheinheimer Says Graduation Day Starts With Great Teachers

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STUDENTS SOUND OFF
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"Students Sound Off," is an ongoing student blogger contest aimed at providing students a loud and clear voice in the education debate presented by HuffPost Education and Get Schooled. As the fourth post in the series, high schooler Erin Rheinheimer answers the question:

If you were given the chance, how would you help kids at your school graduate?

My alarm clock rings every morning at 5:55 a.m. I groggily emerge from slumber and turn it off, move zombie-like toward the bathroom and somehow get through my morning routine. I hate mornings.

And yet, children and even adults in other parts of the world would give anything for the chance to do what I do every weekday morning. Go to school. Free education is a basic freedom and opportunity that most people in America completely overlook. We take our teachers, our textbooks, and our knowledge for granted, so much so that we slack off. We let our grades slip. We drop out of school completely.

Students across America need to realize how valuable the public school system is, and we need to do this by presenting information in a way that makes us want to learn. Every once in a while, students get that one class with a fantastic teacher and, although they would never post it as their Facebook status, they secretly look forward to every time it meets. There are several different reasons that make these classes so incredible, but the overarching theme is that students gain ownership of their learning through interacting with each other, and even having fun.

Students who have dropped out often cite "school being boring" as one of the most predominant reasons for their action. It is not necessarily because they were failing, or didn't see themselves graduating. It is because they were bored.

I am curious to know these students who drop out. Do they realize how precious the gift of free education is? Do they understand what doors a high school education can open? Did they every have that remarkable teacher?

In order to improve graduation rates, I challenge teachers to look at their curriculum and lesson plans. Classes where students merely sit in uncomfortable plastic chairs and listen to an adult drone on about subjects that seem irrelevant are not any fun. These classes become naptime for students, and our beds and couches at home are much more comfortable for sleeping. Engage us. Connect what we are learning to our social lives, our careers, and our futures.

Teachers can make or break a class. I would even say they have the power to keep students in school. (Has anyone seen Freedom Writers?) There is great pressure on teachers to positively influence hundreds and thousands of students' educations over the course of their career.

And yet, we cannot cast all of the blame for high school drop outs on our teachers. There are so many different factors that play into a student's success: early childhood development, family background and other students. But I think this is one place to start. If we revolutionize how students learn and teachers teach, then maybe fewer students will be bored in school. This one advantageous factor could overpower the others that drag students down. This one factor could make us realize what a great treasure we are given for thirteen years of our lives.

I hate mornings, but if I woke up knowing that when I got to school, I would go to enjoyable classes with delightful teachers and stimulating work, it might help me rub the sleep from my eyes quicker. To improve graduation statistics, we just need to give students something to look forward to. Education is a freedom, not an incarceration.

Are you a high school student who wants to sound off to the HuffPost community and win a chance to blog with a celebrity, politician or activist? Find out how on our contest page or read other essays by high school students.

This contest is brought to you by Waiting For "Superman".

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