They dropped out for a variety of reasons but they all returned because of the same idea. They wanted to complete their high school education and improve their lives.
On Dec. 11, 2018, the latest graduates from the Middle College program — a partnership of Kansas City Public Schools, Metropolitan Community College and Full Employment Council — received their diplomas during a ceremony at MCC-Penn Valley.
So far there have been three graduation ceremonies. In 2018, there were ceremonies in May, June and December. Another is planned this May.
The December group of graduates was the largest. The 17 grads make up half of the 34 students who have completed their high school education through the program so far.
The program is housed at MCC-Penn Valley and is for students living in the KCPS district between the ages of 16 and 24. Most of the graduates have been 20 or younger.
It’s hoped that learning in a college setting will get students comfortable with the idea of pursuing a college degree.
Students complete their high school education through success workshops, online coursework and direct instruction to earn a KCPS high school diploma or high school equivalency credential.
The students spend 15 hours a week in class — typically mornings — and 15 hours in paid or unpaid work experiences.
Through the program they receive plenty of help along the way.
Students get tutoring and adult mentoring, along with help developing their leadership skills. They also learn about finances and how to develop entrepreneurial skills.
But there are more opportunities for them once they graduate. The Full Employment Council will pay for two years of college or technical training. It will also help graduates find jobs.
Related: New program helps students get their academic careers back on track (Feb. 12, 2018)