Volunteers Tell Dropouts "We Want You Back"

Posted at: 10/12/2013 9:52 PM
Updated at: 10/12/2013 11:04 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Volunteers came out by the dozens Saturday. They went door-to-door encouraging students who've struggled to stay in school, to get that high school diploma. It's a campaign that's proven to be successful, and Rochester Public Schools and the United Way of Olmsted County have teamed up again this year for the "We Want you Back" campaign.

Earlier this week, we introduced you Kou Yang. A Rochester teen who dropped out of school to help his family. “They were struggling to pay bills and they needed some of us to work," said Yang.

Now, he's on the path to graduation thanks to a group of volunteers who showed up at his doorstep last year. "If they would've never came to my door, I don't know what I would be like right now," said Yang.

"While it's very important for him to support his family, at the same time he can, for the long term, help his family even more by getting that high school graduation," said Laura Bowman with the United Way.

"There's a community that will help them, that really wants to help them, and I think if we can tell them personally, maybe we have a better shot at getting them back," said volunteer and former high school teacher Jean Marvin.

Volunteers broke into teams and each group got a list of students. "The school district identified the students, of course, that I think primarily are seniors in high school and are probably not on track to graduate if we don't get them some support to help them through graduation," said Bowman.

"If they quit now it’s going to make it nearly impossible for them to continue down the road," said Marvin.

So, they hit the road in attempts to encourage students that school is important, even when other challenges make it seem almost impossible. "I’ve always been a huge believer in that the most important thing we can do for our kids is to give them a really good education," said Marvin.

Kou Yang is proof, that it can be done. "I am really proud of myself," he said.

We were not allowed to show any of the students that were approached this year, due to privacy concerns. Most of the families who could be reached were called in advance, so that they were prepared for visitors.