For the fourth consecutive year, Royal Palm Beach High School has broken its own record and achieved the highest graduation rate in the school’s history.
The Palm Beach County School District recently posted its official graduation rates for the last academic year, and RPBHS Principal Dr. Jesús Armas said that he could not be more pleased to report that the school achieved a graduation rate of 92.8 percent.
“There are many factors that play into successfully graduating students,” said Armas, who was recently recognized as the district’s adult education principal of the year. “We approach most things through three domains: culture, systems and instruction.”
It all starts with believing in the students, Armas explained.
“Culture begins with a belief by the entire school community that every child can earn a high school diploma,” he said.
Under his leadership, the team at RPBHS set up a system to make that happen.
“We go about the business of ensuring that each and every student is tracked to ensure that no one slips through the cracks and is provided the proper course sequence to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate personalized instruction,” Armas said. “Our school counselors are largely responsible for this with help from the assistant principals.”
Last, but certainly not least, Armas points to his teachers. “Our teachers work collaboratively with our Instructional Leadership Team to ensure that the curriculum is planned, delivered and monitored appropriately,” he said. “So, as you can see, it’s a total team effort to help our students succeed.”
While a variety of factors, including alternative testing procedures, have caused graduation rates to increase both statewide and districtwide, sustained rates above 90 percent at Royal Palm Beach High School are particularly impressive, because as recently as 2011, the school posted a graduation rate of only 70.9 percent.
The RPBHS graduation rate of 92.8 percent for the 2017-18 year compares favorably with the state average of 86.1 percent and the district average of 87.2 percent.
High schools in the western communities scored impressive graduation rates as well, with Palm Beach Central High School achieving 95.4 percent, Wellington High School posting 93.6 percent and Seminole Ridge High School coming in at 90.3 percent.
While the RPBHS graduation rate is now similar to the graduation rates of other area high schools, Armas noted a key difference.
“We are particularly proud of the fact that our students are graduating at a comparable rate, even though RPBHS is the only Title 1 school of the four,” he said.
Title 1 provides federal resources to schools with high percentages of students from low-income families with an emphasis on supporting lower-achieving students.
In 2010, Armas was named principal of Royal Palm Beach High School, the position he currently holds. Now in his eighth year at RPBHS, Armas is the longest-tenured principal in the history of the school and has helped the school become an IB World School and has brought several new programs to the school, including STEM, AICE, AVID and a Navy JROTC program.
Armas, who recently earned his doctoral degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, lives in Loxahatchee with his wife of 30 years, Teresa, and their son, Daniel, a Royal Palm Beach High School student.