Program working to lower dropout rate in Richmond Co.

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News 12 This Morning / Monday, Sept. 24, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A normal school day lasts around seven hours, but for some students in Richmond County, they can complete it in just four. It's a program that's in it's second year, but they say they've already seen it's impact.

The program offers kids an alternate way to make it through high school. For students who have to work, have a child or regular high school just isn't working for them, they can go to the Performance Learning Center.

"I was pregnant my last year, my senior year so I kinda fell back after having my son," said student Leteica Fairley. She is finishing up her last few credits of high school at the PLC. "[I] got really, really behind missing too much work and I felt I couldn't maintain and graduate when I was supposed to."

The Performance Learning Center is located at the Tubman Education Center. Instead of dropping out, the program offered her another way to get her diploma.

"I have two and a half classes to finish so I'm here from 9-11:50 and I can leave here my son's still asleep, I can go home get him ready for daycare, do what I have to do and then go to work," said Fairley.

She says she wouldn't have been able to finish high school without the program -- something that wasn't really an option for her and her child.

"I work a Krystal right now," said Fairley. "Having a child, you can't make it off of fast food. So I'm trying to get my diploma where I can get a good paying job."

The Performance Learning Center is just starting it's second year, helping students in all sorts of situations finish high school.

"It was a necessity because we have students out there that have to work, they have to help support their families, those students were missing days from school because they were tired from work , they had to go to work, so this is really a good convenience," said Natalie Robinson, Academic Supervisor at the PLC.

Since all the students are at different levels, the program uses an online class system allowing them to work at their own pace.

"I like how it's online," said student Hunter Woods. "It's self paced, you work at your own pace, and you have teachers to help you."

"You don't have the distractions of your peers, classmates joking and playing around," added Anthony Williams. "You have that one-on-one with you, your computer, and your learning facilitator."

For Leteica, the program offered something more, "It gives you a second chance that most wouldn't have and for those who feel like they can't finish, it is possible."

Right now, the program is at capacity of 125 students. There is a waiting list, but administrators are hoping some will graduate in December allowing more to come in. Last year 17 students graduated, students that Robinson says may have dropouts without this program.

The students are co-enrolled with their high schools. As long as they are passing, they can participate in extra curricular activities and sports at their high school. The kids come from schools all over Richmond County.

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