At-risk students celebrate graduation thanks to dropout program - 8 News NOW

At-risk students celebrate graduation thanks to dropout program

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Photo Courtesy: CCSD Photo Courtesy: CCSD

LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County School District's graduation rate has been trending up the last few years.

In 2012, it was at 61.6 percent, with about 15,000 high school graduates. That number went up to 71.5 percent in 2013.

Now, with more than 700 at-risk students set to receive their diplomas this year, CCSD officials say they are moving in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done.

Thursday morning, the district held its third annual Reclaim Your Future event.

It celebrates the success of hundreds of Clark County students, who at one point were at risk of not graduating, but the school district says its work is far from over and it needs the whole community to step up and help.

Shontre Burgess, 18, is about to graduate from Del Sol High School but getting here hasn't be easy.

"I am absent a lot because I don't really have bus fares to get to school," Burgess said.

Her family had financial troubles over the past few years. She had to move often and stay with different relatives. Her grades also started dropping but she credits her advocate and mentor Adriana Barroyo for pushing her to stay in school.

"I can talk to her about anything under the sun and not feel ashamed about it. Not thinking that she was going to judge me afterwards. It was amazing," Burgess said.

Burgess will be attending Nevada State College next year to study biology.

The two were among those honored at the annual Reclaim Your Future celebration.

The initiative was started four years ago by former CCSD Superintendent Dwight Jones, who went door to door with community leaders urging high school drop-outs to return to class.

Clark County School Board member Erin Cranor says to keep boosting the graduation rate, the program needs more community members to step up and work one on one with students.

"There are students here who are still not graduating. We do not have 100 percent yet," Cranor said.

She also believes the new state law requiring students to have a diploma to walk on graduation day will put pressure on parents to keep kids in school.

"The diploma is so important and attainable. That is the message the community is trying to send to our young people," Cranor said.

The first Reclaim Your Future graduating class was around 300 students. This year it is close to 750.

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