City shines after Saturday morning ‘Spring Sweep’

Published 11:43 am Sunday, March 29, 2009

By Staff
Schools’ program offers area-students a second chance
Lifestyles &Features Editor
The reasons are many: poor attendance, academic challenges, the economy, discipline problems, family situations.
Those are a few of the scenarios that could cause a student to drop out of school. In Beaufort County, the dropout rate — 5.76 percent during the 2007-2008 school year — has decreased in recent years, although it remains higher than the state average of 4.97 percent over the same time period.
But Beaufort County is addressing the issue: It’s examining why students in public schools leave the classroom and also providing an alternative method for dropouts to obtain their high school diploma.
The Beaufort County Schools Pathways to Success program, in its first year, serves more than 60 students who for a variety of reasons never finished high school.
The program’s slogan is “Pathways to Success. Stop. Think. Choose.”
Beaufort County received $150,000 to implement the new program for the 2008-2009 school year. In October, an additional grant was provided to ensure Pathways would continue through the 2009-2010 term, Oros said.
The money must be used to prevent students from dropping out or to fund programs, such as Pathways, that allow those who have already left school to return and finish their high school education.
Pathways targets former students younger than age 21 who are looking for a second chance, Oros said.
Many of them were struggling in the traditional high school setting and were unable to complete the courses they needed to graduate. Pathways focuses on the core curriculum, including four years of math and English courses, and offers some additional vocational and technical elective classes.
Long range plans are in place for the Pathways program, Oros added.
Approved by the Beaufort County Board of Education, Pathways adheres to much of the same criteria in place at Washington, Northside and Southside high schools.
Charles Robinson is among students presently enrolled in Pathways. The 19-year-old moved to Beaufort County last year, and like others realized he was falling short on credits.
Robinson anticipates graduating in June. He’s currently job hunting and planning to attend a community college, where he hopes to study carpentry and masonry.
Robinson hopes he will be an inspiration for younger students in the same situation.
Oros said the program is already succeeding. The very first Pathways graduate is now taking classes at Beaufort County Community College.