Program for helps high school dropouts find a future

(WBNS-10TV)
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It may be hard to imagine, but every 26 seconds in this country a student drops out of high school.

That's about 7,000 students per day, according to the US Department of Education.

Seventeen-year-old Allen Hernandez and 18-year-old Jasie Crockett were among those who decided school wasn't for them.

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"In seventh grade, I was a bit of a trouble maker getting suspended from school," Hernandez said.

"I was skipping school a lot I wasn't coming home a lot I started selling drugs," Crockett said.

But everything thing changed for both of them when they discovered Youth Build.

It's a public, non-profit charter school in north Columbus that helps kids ages 16 to 21 graduate from high school and learn a trade at the same time from construction to nursing.

It turned these one- time dropouts into kids who want to go to college.

"This school is different it's not the same as the traditional school they act like a family," Hernandez said.

The Ohio Department of Education is looking to find ways to better identify students who are struggling in school and either help them stay in school or direct them to a trade school where they are inspired to learn a skill and become employable.T

The department and other stakeholders involved in charter schools are working to solve the drop out issue among high school students.

Cris Gulacy-Worrel a former employee of the Ohio Department of Education where she specialized in charter school funding and now helps run Oakmont Education which manages 10+ state-designated dropout recovery schools in Ohio.

"The question we need to ask is: How do I get students on average who are 18.5 years old and read at a fourth-grade reading level help? We know every student doesn't come to the game with the same equipment. if you have to worry about where you are going to sleep where you are going to eat giving your parent Narcan, we've had a student who has done that, we've had students who have said his parent died you're less worried about being educated," she said.

Nearly all of the students who come to Youth Build are dropouts and 63% are homeless.

Despite those challenges, kids are finding to like school again.

"If you are homeless they'll get you back on your feet. if you don't have a mom the teachers here are like your parents if you don't have brother or sisters the kids here are like your brother and sister," says Crockett.

"For a little bit, I felt my family was disappointed in me but now I feel they're proud of me for changing my life," says Hernandez.

Youth Build says about 23% of its student graduate which it says is better than most drop out/recovery schools.

Crocket says he wants to get into nursing when he graduates. Hernandez says he wants to start his own roofing company.