Communities in Schools gets $300K to fight dropout rate
By Amy Cherry/Mellany Armstrong

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WDEL's Mellany Armstrong talks with CISDE President Jim Purcell and a program participant.

Communities in Schools receives a $300,000 grant from AT&T to help lower the high school dropout rate.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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Delaware's drop out rate is far too high and through this generous grant, Jim Purcell President of Communities in Schools plans to expand their presence to improve graduation rates at William Penn, Newark, Dickinson, and McKean high schools.

"Mentoring is key. Our site directors help bring mentors into schools, help develop a one-on-one relationship with our students, that they have a caring situation," explains Purcell.

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Purcell has big hopes to expand even further as well.

"Ideally, we'll hopefully be able to go down into the middle school and also the elementary school because dropping out of school isn't an event, it's a process, so if we can start earlier, working with those students," says Purcell.

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Communities in Schools also provides health, academic and family services to students like 17-year-old Leslie Ope, a senior at William Penn High School, who says without Communities in Schools, she may not have survived high school.

"So Communities in Schools was kind of there when I was down and facing peer pressure and other influences so it kind of enables you to go on and keep pushing," says Ope.

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She says Communities in Schools got her thinking about college.

"They allowed us to go to DelTech, get a college experience, so basically to let you not get intimidated by going to college, so it was kind of fun," she says.

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She graduates this spring, in part, due to Communities in Schools.

"I was in honest classes getting good grades, but you know when you go through high school you don't really know that you're going to face challenges that actually inhibit you from prospering and going on," she says.

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Copyright © Sep 17, 2014, WDEL/Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.
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