Diplomas Not Dropoutsby Johanna Seidel

America is experiencing a high school dropout crisis and not enough people are aware of the problem. In 2011, the graduation rate in America was a mere 75%. Many students face difficult challenges without the necessary guidance to overcome them and keep them on the right track. These children need to know that there are people who are proud of them and empathize with their challenges.

That is where the new awareness campaign, Diplomas Not Dropouts, comes in. To re-engage students with their education, a select group of eighth grade students in the Circleville Middle School Boys & Girls Club after-school program are invited to spend time on Mount Saint Mary College’s campus. Visitors will be grouped with students who are a part of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) on campus to make an effort to connect with the club members on a personal level. The students will have the opportunity to discuss their thoughts about college and any concerns about making it through high school. Spending time immersing themselves in a new collegiate atmosphere will give them something to link their current education experience to, while providing a purpose. It may also help them establish a goal of attending college after graduation.

Inspirational messages will be collected from the Mount community to be given to these at-risk students. Diplomas Not Dropouts will run on campus throughout the month of April. This, in turn, will generate an awareness of the dropout crisis on the Mount Saint Mary campus. All students and faculty are encouraged to write messages that will be distributed to a group of at-risk students by emailingdiplomasnotdropouts@gmail.com.

For more information, visit diplomasnotdropouts.com.