In rural Oregon, boys are not choosing college. That’s widening the urban-rural divide

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Shawn Whinery, left, and Wesley Ince relax at the Ince family home after their last day of school in Ontario. Beth Nakamura / The Oregonian

While some of their classmates at Ontario High watched The Princess Bride on an end-of-term catch-up day in honors government this March, Shawn Whinery and Wesley Ince faced off over a chessboard.

The friends took several of the same classes at the eastern Oregon high school, sang together in the school choir and performed side by side in school plays. Ince would go on to become a senior class valedictorian, and Whinery graduated with a 3.7 GPA.

About the Reporting

This story is the third in a College Conundrum series that will be posted by The Oregonian/OregonLive in the coming week. Stay tuned for more stories exploring why fewer Oregon high school grads are entering college. This series was produced with support from the Education Writers Association.

Coming Sunday: This rural high school routinely sends two-thirds of its students to college. Here’s how.

Coming Wednesday: Fewer than half of Oregon’s Indigenous and Latino students went on to college in the class of 2021. But there are bright spots too.

Coming Friday: As Black student enrollment declines, Amiya Roberts fights to make college her next step

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