Local School Districts Helping Drop-Outs Earn Degrees - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local School Districts Helping Drop-Outs Earn Degrees

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PASCO, Wash. - It is graduation season, and thanks to an effort by local school districts, former high school drop-outs are now earning their diplomas.

Some students who got off track in a traditional high school setting are coming to CBC to take part in the High School Academy and earn their diplomas. The Kennewick School District told drop-outs "We want you back" and students are graduating because of those outreach efforts.

Volunteers went door to door last summer telling Kennewick High School drop-outs to come back to school as part of a campaign to help those students graduate. Their simple message is changing lives and improving futures.

"An opportunity to say, we want you back, but hey you don't have to go back to your home high school. We've got a place here at CBC. You could finish up. You'll have your diploma. You can go forward. It's the best thing possible," said Lorraine Cooper with the Kennewick School District.

Three students from the We Want You Back Campaign are graduating this year, and seven more from the district are earning their diploma from the CBC program.

"Sometimes they have burned their bridges, if you will, in their previous schools. They may feel like they have a certain image over there that people will not allow them to get past that. However, once they come here it's a fresh new start," said CBC High School Academy Director, Leonor de Maldonado.

The Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco School Districts all refer kids to the CBC High School Academy, along with the juvenile justice system. Since it began in March 2012, 30 students have graduated and many more are on track to graduate this year.

Alisha Dowdy dropped out of a Richland school for a year before starting the program.

"Things weren't really going great and then here they helped me, tell me I have a future and everything," Alisha said.

She will graduate with her high school diploma next week and plans to attend CBC in the fall.

"It's kind of emotional since I'm the only person in my family who's really gone to college or anything like that," she said.

Kennewick School District plans to continue their successful We Want You Back Campaign for a second year this summer. They are looking for volunteers to help them encourage students to come back and earn their diplomas.