Canton schools start new program for high school dropout prevention

Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 2:49 PM CDT
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CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Canton Public School District is reaching out to students to prevent them from dropping out in high school. The new program is designed to target their needs and put them on the path to college or the workforce.

“This program gives you more chances than normal school would,” said Tyrese McElroy.

The 17-year-old is in Canton’s High School Equivalency Program to keep him on track to graduate. He struggled with math and language arts.

“This was a better option for me because they gave a better one-on-one experience with the difficulties I had in certain subjects,” said McElroy.

The program prepares students for the GED, but those enrolled must meet the qualifications and complete 15 academic hours and 27 career hours weekly.

“Here you can focus more than regular school,” said Angela Hernandez.

It’s a life changer for the 11th grader.

“A great opportunity for me that for work and college because it’s my dream to go to college to be the first one in my family to go,” said Hernandez.

Classes are held in the old Canton Elementary School. Twelve students are enrolled with space for 15.

Monica McGhee, one of the program coordinators, said the district reviewed student data and designed a program for students one or two grades behind or unsuccessful in subject testing areas.

“Not only can they go to college, they can enter the workforce,” said McGhee. “We’re partnering with Kelly Service, Amazon, and Nissan to make sure once they exit this program they will have a next step to life.”

Melinda Johnson’s son Cortney Reed is one of the participants. She said he lost interest in school during COVID-19 and virtual learning.

“With this program, they have a second chance. They’re more motivated,” said Johnson. “They’re encouraged to be more of themselves to go out and just say I can do this. I have a life. I can choose to be successful.”

Barbara Francis wanted her grandson, Jaelon Manning, to be in the program because of his challenges during COVID-19 classes.

“The virtual learning didn’t sit well with him,” said Francis. “So when he got over here I said ‘Jaelon do you like it?’ He said ‘I like that.’ I said, ‘Ok.’ I said, ‘Are you getting what you need?’ He said yeah.”

The Canton and Pass Christian School Districts are the only two systems in the state currently offering the High School Equivalency Program.

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