By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Experts say one million students drop out of high school in the U.S. every year.
The Alliance for Excellent Education claims the class of 2008 dropouts will cost the nation more than $300 billion in lost wages.
Tulsa Public Schools is trying to flip that statistic.
Brittany Tilley and Eloy Kimberly Petruce have become fast friends and both are graduating.
"I feel excited it's finally happening," said Tilley.
Tilley had a problem making it to class.
"I had challenges with attendance before I came to (Continuation School). But once I came, it was really great. So I started coming every day," said Tilley.
Petruce couldn't go to class, because a natural disaster wiped out her school.
"My school fell, so we don't have any school in Haiti, so I came (to Continuation School)," said Petruce.
Tulsa Public Schools' new Continuation School is a partnership with a national program called Ombudsman. It offers struggling students personalized education plans to keep them in school.
"These kids are wonderful. They come in. They're ready to learn, because this is kind of a last chance program for them. And they're ready to learn and they have been wonderful to work with this year," said Christine Laurore, Tulsa Continuation High School/Ombudsman Director.
Between the Continuation School and Tulsa's Learning Academy, another alternative program aimed at helping students finish high school, TPS has reclaimed dozens of would-be dropouts.
"And to have students graduate that were on their road to potentially being dropouts is just a very rewarding and exciting feeling. And we're proud of each one of them," said Lisa Chitty, Ombudsman Program.
It hasn't been easy.
"My language, cause my first language is French. I just learned English in Haiti. So to do calculus and physics, all this stuff like this is so hard. So I had to work, very, very hard," said Petruce.
The hard work paid off and the celebrating has begun. With a little school success now under their belts, many say they will continue their educations.
"Yes I will, cause I have to. I want to. And I will," said Petruce.