On Saturday, May 28, slightly more than 1,000 students will walk across the Ohio Exposition Center stage to receive their diploma and become graduates of the Westerville City School District.

On Saturday, May 28, slightly more than 1,000 students will walk across the Ohio Exposition Center stage to receive their diploma and become graduates of the Westerville City School District.

Some of these students have been with us their entire 13 years of school. Some even began their academic career in our federally-required preschool program.

Graduation is, undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the year for me because it represents the culmination of years of work for our students, their families and our staff. Thanks to everyone for your commitment and tireless efforts to help our graduates get to where they are today.

I also want to thank our community for its ongoing support of quality public education. Once students from the class of 2016 have their diplomas in hand, our community will have invested approximately $125,000 into each graduate who spent his or her entire academic career with us. This isn't just an investment in these children. It's an investment in their future and in the future of our society.

The New York Times in 2012 published an op-ed article, "The True Cost of High School Dropouts," which offered several interesting national statistics. If the number of dropouts was reduced by half, it would yield almost 700,000 new graduates a year. The typical high school graduate earns 50 percent to 100 percent more lifetime income over a person who doesn't complete high school. This leads to less dependency on public money for health care and welfare, and they are less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.

Because of increased income, high school graduates generate more in tax revenue over their lifetime to fund local, state and federal initiatives.

The article states the following: "When the costs of investment to produce a new graduate are taken into account, there is a return of $1.45 to $3.55 for every dollar of investment, depending upon the educational intervention strategy. Under this estimate, each new graduate confers a net benefit to taxpayers of about $127,000 over the graduate's lifetime. This is a benefit to the public of nearly $90 billion for each year of success in reducing the number of high school dropouts by 700,000 -- or something close to $1 trillion after 11 years."

Given these statistics, one can see the importance of keeping students in school and getting them across the finish line. Since its inception slightly more than 15 years ago, our Educational Opportunities for Success program has been a valuable asset for our community by helping more than 1,000 at-risk youth become high school graduates.

During the 2013-14 school year, the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network identified EOS as a model program for dropout prevention. EOS received the highest research rating of Strong Evidence of Effectiveness, a rank reserved for model programs that have been in existence for three or more years. Of more than 350 programs identified in the model database, only 105 were distinguished with the highest rating of effectiveness. Educators from around the country have come to our district to learn about the success of EOS.

I take great pride in watching our graduates receive their diplomas, be it during traditional year-end commencement ceremonies or during Board of Education meetings honoring our summer and winter graduates.

I know our community takes pride, too.

As your superintendent, I've had the opportunity to get to know many of this year's graduates. I'm pleased to say that I believe the future is bright and we're all in very, very good hands.

John Kellogg is superintendent of the Westerville City School District, which provides School notes to ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion.