Community members and HISD employees gathered at Booker T. Washington High School on Saturday, September 10, to take part in the annual Grads Within Reach Walk. The event took volunteers to the doorsteps of students who had withdrawn from school due to various personal challenges to encourage them to go back and earn their diplomas.
As of August 29, there were 5,730 students within the district who did not return for the new school year. Staff from nearly 30 high schools visited the homes of these students to offer support and resources.
The Dropout Prevention and Recovery Team is responsible for the planning, implementation, and coordination of dropout prevention and recovery strategies at HISD, including organizing events like the Grads Within Reach Walk. The team’s mission is to remove barriers that keep students from attendance and success by collaborating with other departments and community partners to get students in school.
The morning kicked off with a few words from Carl Green, manager with HISD’s Office of Student Assistance, who organized the walk, as well as a brief speech from Washington High School Principal Dr. Carlos Phillips and Superintendent Millard House II.
“The Grads Within Reach Walk is something that’s been done on an annual basis for quite some time,” said House. “This collaborative effort is between campus, district, and community organizations and staff. This is what a village is, ensuring that we do what’s necessary to make our community better and ensuring that our youth have everything that they need.”
House and Phillips spoke personally to each student that they visited, and the students were given new school supplies and an outline of the resources available to them to help them continue their high school education.
“The resources that we have are love, guidance, and direction,” said Phillips. “Those are the natural resources that all of our staff members have to be the baseline for our kids to be successful. With our district support, we have wraparound services, different counseling services in the social emotional learning department. Everyone is working together to make sure that these kids have the best education and that they can get that diploma and find a path to be successful.”
For more information about HISD’s Dropout Prevention and Recovery Team, visit their website.