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Communities in Schools helps 6,500 kids stay in school

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Updated: 10/22/2013 8:28 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thousands of Duval County's at-risk kids are now staying in school thanks to the efforts of one local organization.

Angelia Powell is a senior at A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology. But her education is something she almost gave up on.

"I actually wanted to drop out of high school. I felt like it was no need of school because it was boring me," she said.

With her future on the line, she turned to Ingrid Thomas, a site coordinator with Communities in Schools. So did Treyana Cooper and now both girls are on track for college.

"I was like, always in trouble. And like, my mouth would always get me in trouble and now I've learned to control my attitude," said Cooper.

They are just a snapshot of the success the program is bringing to Duval County.

The results are in and last school year, 92 percent of kids in the program grades kindergarten through 11 moved on to the next grade. Ninety-nine percent of the seniors graduated.

It's a moment that's always an emotional one for Thomas.

"I give them high fives because I'm really proud of them and I'm really proud of what they've accomplished," she said. "When they say their name and they say no screaming, no cheering, no applause, I'm in the back silently screaming."

Powell and Cooper said Communities in Schools has given them confidence to chase their dreams.

"It's good that I actually got my attitude together because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to make it in the real world. I wouldn't go far," Powell said.

The funding runs out after this year for the program at A. Philip Randolph. Right now the organization is looking for new options to keep it going next year.

In Duval County, the group helped kids in 18 elementary schools, 13 middle schools and eight high schools last year.

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