By Erika Ditzman
One in four students in Brown County from grades 6 to 12 is at risk of dropping out of high school. In 2017 Achieve Brown County convened a Graduation Task Force combining the efforts of local school districts and mentoring services to design and implement a system that detects students at risk of dropping out of high school and pairs them with community-based mentoring supports, such as BE GREAT: Graduate at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay.
In the first year of the pilot program (Alpha Test), 53 students were supported. In its third year (Gamma Test), the program served 264 students in the 2020-2021 school year. As of December, there are now 160 students matched with a mentor in the BE GREAT: Graduate program for this school year which is referred to as Year 4 of the Graduation Task Force.
To read more about the program results, visit ABC’s blog post “2020-2021 Graduation Task Force Gamma Test Results.”
BE GREAT: Graduate is a nationally recognized dropout prevention program. Mentors called Graduation Specialists support and prepare students to be college-, career-, and community-ready after graduation. Of last year’s participants, 85% maintained or improved their behavior in school and 100% of seniors (8/8) graduated high school on time.
During his sophomore year of high school, David was identified as a student that would benefit from BE GREAT: Graduate. He not only struggled academically, but socially as well, missing full days of school, and seldom turning in his schoolwork. While at first hesitant to join the program, he was quick to experience academic improvement.
“After he joined the program, we began to see improvement in attendance and school engagement quickly,” explained the Boys and Girls Club. “His attitude began to change as a result. He became more outgoing and had a newfound confidence about him. He was smiling and opening himself up to others. His grades improved and he began to make up the credits he missed as a freshman.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, David was no longer able to meet with his Graduation Specialist in person. He, like many others, had to adapt to a virtual learning environment. David was apprehensive, but his Graduation Specialist assured him that they were “in this together.”
Even after encountering numerous obstacles, David graduated from Bay Port High School this past school year!
“I would not be here without her,” David said as he pointed to his Graduation Specialist. “She’s not a teacher, she’s my friend and someone I can always count on.”
David’s story was featured at the US Venture Open. Click to watch a video about David and BE GREAT: Graduate.