One Student's Experience Dropping Out, And Getting Back In
This feature appears courtesy of our American Graduate Partner, KUNC, Community Radio for Northern Colorado.
When it comes to dropouts, thousands of Colorado High School students are still slipping through the cracks. While numbers are going down, not graduating from high school does place those individuals at a disadvantage later in life.
Statistics alone on a spreadsheet don't adequately answer the "why" question. Why did a particular student leave school? In the case of 18-year-old Bishop Albright it was the birth of his son.
"I just stopped going, because they started saying, like if I don't get a job – like my dad was telling me, if I don't go get a job – then he was just pretty much going to sell all my stuff because he's not going to take care of my kid," Albright said. "I have to take care of my own kid you know"
Bishop Albright was out of school for a year. He's now working fulltime as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut and has gone back to school, attending Futures Academy in Aurora.
"I just knew, like, while I was working – I can't do this my whole life, you know," Albright said. "It's like I need to make a future for myself and, you know, be able to provide for my son and stuff. Like, I needed to get my education. Like, I guess it just clicked on to my mind, like that I can't live off of minimum wage, you know?"
Albright said his mom told him about the program at Futures Academy, one that helps high school dropouts re-engage with their education. A phone call from Futures ended up sealing the deal for him.
"We'll I feel like I'm being more helped here than I was at regular high school because, a lot of high school teachers don't really have time to go around and help every kid in the class and stuff like that," Albright said. "I just feel like I'm learning more here."
The 10-year-old program at Futures, managed by Colorado Youth for a Change, has helped Albright. He feels more involved in his own education, somehow avoiding the feeling that it's a chore or routine. As Albright puts it, it feels "refreshing."
"I don't think I was as much of a – as a good student in high school, because I don't know, like, I wouldn't go to some classes, like, but now I try to make it on time every day, try to come to class everyday and then like sometimes I wouldn't be on task," he said. "But now it's, like, a lot more serious, you know, like, like – it's just like a big wake up, you know."
For him it's turning into a literal learning opportunity, both in the classroom and in everyday life and the options that are available with an education. Albright figures it's an opportunity he should take advantage of while he has a choice.
"I'm actually going for my GED – I kinda wanted to go to college but, I mean, I just want to hurry up and get it so I can start living life and get my first apartment start better jobs, you know," he said. "And maybe go to community college, you know, I'm just glad I get to go back to school. A lot of kids don't take advantage of that, you know, going back to school because a lot of kids can't do it, like in different places, like Africa and stuff."
He's well are of the challenges, but Albright doesn't want to give up, he has a lot riding on getting it all together.
"My dad's very, very supportive and I'm just like, trying to make my family, like proud, my mom's supportive too. They just tell me to stay in school and stuff but – like, it's kind of hard cause I'm trying to actually, like, find a new job and stuff too."
Bishop Albright will soon turn 19. While he's working to get his life back together he's also mentoring his little brother – a sophomore who is on the football team at his former high school.
"Sometimes he wakes up late and stuff, and I'm like 'dude, you got to get up,'" Albright said. "I'll drive him to school, you know. Like just so I know that he's not gonna go in my path that I went, you know, so. I know that's he's just going to just gonna go and graduate. Like, it's just way easier just to go to school first and finish first instead of starting over."
Editor's Note: This story is based on an interview with Bishop Albright, recounting his experience as a dropout returning to education.