Grad Labs help students earn their diplomas

On Memorial Day weekend, when her family was gathered around the grill, Rebecca Babb was at work on the computer.

The Waltrip High School senior was determined to finish the only course standing between her and graduation.  “I told my mom, ‘I am going to try, I am going to see what I can do,’” Rebecca said.

Rebecca Babb, who graduated from Waltrip High School on Sunday, credits her school’s Grad Lab with helping her to receive her diploma with her class.

Rebecca knew the stakes: Pass the online math class and walk the stage or fail and report to summer school. She had already failed Algebra II twice.

Waltrip Graduation Coach Brett Rusnock, who works in the school’s Grad Lab, identified the online class as an option that would allow her to graduate with her class.

Her hard work and extra effort were rewarded on Sunday night as she walked the stage in her red cap and gown to receive her diploma.

“It’s the best thing that could have possibly happened to me because without (the Grad Lab) I wouldn’t be here,” Rebecca said at the ceremony. “It’s really like a miracle.”

“Rebecca came to me,” Rusnock said. “She wasn’t looking for a bailout. She wasn’t looking for somebody to take pity on her and scribble a number. She was looking for someone to help her graduate.”

There’s a Grad Lab in every comprehensive HISD high school. The computer labs allow students like Rebecca to recover course credits and work at their own pace. During the 2011-2012 school year, more than 6,000 course credits have been completed in Grad Labs.

“I see how challenging the work is,” Rusnock said. “There is a lot of writing and analyzing, and a lot of applications.”

And while Rebecca may have missed one family barbecue, she was already planning another one—to celebrate her graduation.

“You really can do some of the things that you never thought you could,” she said.