RCSD program gives dropouts a second chance

June 12, 2018 08:32 AM

A lot of people in our area drop out of school before getting their diploma. This leads to all sorts of problems including poverty.

In Rochester alone, 22 percent of students dropped out just last year and more than 30 percent of people live in poverty. A Rochester City School District program is giving dropouts a second chance.

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When adult learners graduate from the Office of Adult and Career Education Services (OACES), many of them are getting jobs and changing the statistics.

Classrooms at OACES aren't typical. They are full of people of all ages looking to make a better life for themselves -- 22-year-old Shacaria Ruffin is one of them.

"I tried different GED programs and they didn't work," Ruffin said. "I like designing things. I'm very creative so I thought this would be the best fit for me."

Ruffin found her place at the OACES in the Quick Print and Promotions program. At OACES, students can study different trades from electric to culinary to nursing and more.

In just six months, Ruffin earned a high school diploma and a certification in her field, something Narlene Ragans, director of accountability, said hundreds of students do through OACES every year.

"Different things happen to different people at different points in their lives," Ragans said. "Just because something didn't work right for you at one point doesn't mean your life is over."

Inspired by two her daughters, Ruffin will soon walk the stage earning something she didn't think was possible.

"You have to put the work in if you want your high school diploma, I did and look at me, graduating."

She didn't just earn a diploma. Ruffin is now employed with a full-time job in the design field.

She and 300 other adult learners will walk across the stage at the graduation ceremony Wednesday night at the Hochstein School of Music.


Kaci Jones

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