The Kids Are Alright

While Superior is seeing growth in several different areas, an area of concern for the town council is with the youth leaving town.

The Resolution Copper Mine looks to bring about 3,200 jobs to the area. However, Superior Senior-Junior High School guidance counselor Angela Brammer said job opportunities in Superior after college prevents many of the youth from returning.

“I think that’s more of a big deal financially than they don’t want to be here,” she said.

One job Brammer did say students tend to return to Superior for are teachers because there are opportunities for that at the school.

In order to encourage graduating seniors to stay, Superior Mayor Mila Besich-Lira said part of the trick to retention is creating a community where youth want to stay, work and raise a family.

One way the town council is doing this is by raising awareness of the available local jobs.

The town council invites the graduating class to its meetings where it gives the students a blank key, a keychain and a letter.

In that letter, Besich-Lira said the council encourages its youth to go out and get an education but to remember their hometown community, in the hope it will entice them to return if possible because the town needs them.

“Youth retention is huge for rural America and it’s something that our mining communities are all working on together,” she said.

Resident Miranda Davis, 27, found her way back to Superior after spending some time in the Valley.

She said Superior feels more at home and she has help with her children while she works at the Sunflour Market.

She said she enjoys the familiarity and kindness of the community, especially for her children.

“I’d rather them grow up and know this place than going out somewhere where they’re not going to know anyone,” she said.

Loving the community doesn’t seem to be the issue when it comes to staying in Superior.

Senior Casandra Marie Drennan said she loves to see how the community works together with the younger generation through the town’s youth council.

Still, Drennan said she has plans of moving on to nursing school at Northern Arizona University after a quick stint at Central Arizona College.

“We’ve been here our whole high school lives,” she said. “We just want to go out and experience bigger things, experience the world for ourselves and take on that independence because we’ve been dependent our whole lives here.”

Central Arizona College used to offer a way for students in Pinal County to make a pledge and receive free schooling while at CAC through a program called Promise for the Future.

Students typically signed this pledge as early as eighth grade, agreeing to live in Pinal County and graduate from a public or charter school in the county, maintain a 2.75 or higher cumulative grade point average and complete 20 hours of community service prior to graduation.

In return, CAC promised tuition-free education with no credit restrictions.

However, recent changes have made it so the scholarship only covers tuition needs left over after financial aid, not including a student loan, have been applied.

This change took effect at the start of this school year and affects those who already signed the pledge.

“This is going to start impacting where students go, especially these top students,” Brammer said. “If you turn down a $10,000 scholarship at ASU, that’s it, you never get that back. So I promote that, especially if it’s a student I know is going to do well at a university.”

Brammer said she keeps in contact with many students because she also teaches at CAC but also because the state requires her stay in contact with students as long as they can.