FARMINGTON — College and high school students in San Juan County are preparing for commencement ceremonies as the end of the school year approaches.
San Juan College kicks off graduation season with its General Educational Development diploma graduation. On Thursday evening, 317 students who have completed the five sections of the GED test during the school year will graduate.
Two days later on Saturday, more than 900 graduates from San Juan College and the Farmington branches of New Mexico Highlands University and the University of New Mexico will cross the stage in the Learning Commons Plaza to receive their diplomas.
New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez will give the guest keynote address at the ceremonies.
High schools in the Aztec, Bloomfield, Central Consolidated and Farmington school districts, along with Navajo Preparatory School, are also preparing for graduations. Commencement ceremonies for students in those four districts start on May 17, with Vista Nueva High School in Aztec and Navajo Prep both hosting their ceremonies that morning.
Figures provided by district officials show about 188 students from Aztec High School and 148 from Bloomfield High School are scheduled to graduate.
Farmington High School expects about 274 graduates, and Piedra Vista High School estimates 195 to 200 students will walk across the graduation stage.
The Central Consolidated School District declined to release graduation projections. James Preminger, a spokesman for the district, said the district will not approximate high school graduate numbers until the middle of May.
In the 2012-2013 school year, graduation rates for the four area districts ranged between 65 and 71 percent, according to data from the New Mexico Public Education Department. The state's average graduation rate was 70.3 percent that year.
The Bloomfield School District had a 72.3 percent graduation rate in the 2012-2013 school year. That same year, the Aztec Municipal School District had a 71 percent graduation rate, and the Farmington Municipal School District's rate was 67.5 percent. CCSD's graduation rate was 65 percent.
The national graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year was 80 percent, according to a report the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics released April 28. New Mexico's graduation rate that school year was 70.3 percent, the same as in the 2012-2013 school year.
The target graduation rate for state high schools this year is 69.9 percent, said Robert Emerson, the assistant superintendent of educational services and data management for the Farmington school district.
"We would certainly like to hit that target, no question," Emerson said.