Local High School Works To Raise Graduation Rates With ‘Diploma Now’ Program


Students at South High School take home report cards on Thursday, and most have not only maintained their GPA,  but improved.

The principal credits the new program called Diplomas Now.

Volunteers have stepped away from their jobs to mentor 260 students.

Diplomas Now found when they paired students with mentors like Tim Ragland, they pass more classes and behave better.

Ragland says one student taught him by simply listening to a child's story about her home-life impacted her grades.

“She just needed a feeling that someone was there for her that she could talk to that she could reach out to,” said Ragland.

The program includes mentoring, schedule reviews and help for school staff. It comes at a cost of about $400,000 per year in grant money. Teachers say it pays off in graduation and course passage rates.

"Usually, I'd used to sit in the back of the class and clown. Now I'm more serious about my work so I sit in the front and get everything done,” said sophomore Tajh Lambert.

Lambert says his involvement made him move up in class.

It shows on his report card and the freshman class's practice OGT test results.

"As Freshman we all passed the OGT parts higher than the sophomores did,” said Lambert.

In the first year with Diplomas Now, South High School had only five freshmen held back, versus 70 the previous year.

The message: It’s not too late to pull grades up and succeed.

The program goes beyond mentoring, giving students the tools they need to succeed.

Several students have been given alarm clocks to make it to class on time.