Hundreds of volunteers spent Saturday morning knocking on more than 1,300 doors across the city encouraging students who have not returned to school this academic year to re-enroll. The outreach effort was part of the ninth annual Grads Within Reach Walk, which led to 45 HISD students deciding to return to school immediately and many more promising to give school another try.
HISD Superintendent Terry Grier kicked off the walk at Austin High School by motivating dozens of volunteers and administrators. “We know the factors that drive these students to make the difficult decision of dropping out of school vary,” Dr. Grier said. “That’s why we’re here today — to let them know about the programs HISD offers to help them graduate. But more importantly we want them to know HISD cares about them and wants to help them get back in school.”
Dr. Grier later led the volunteers as they knocked on the homes of various students at Austin High School. HISD Board of Education Trustee Juliet Stipeche and Austin High School Principal Jorge Arredondo were among those volunteers encouraging students to re-enroll.
“I’m excited we have the opportunity to reach out to these students to help them get their diploma,” Stipeche said. “We want them to know HISD is going to do whatever it can to help them succeed.” Principal Arredondo said he is invested in this effort, and it’s his privilege to be involved with the Grads Within Reach Walk. “We know this community. We are from this community, and we deeply understand its challenges,” he said. “We also realize as adults who work with the youth of Houston, we are very often these students’ last best chance.”
Among their successful visits was Imelda, 18, who only needs credit for one course to graduate and says she is now going to re-enroll. “My dad has been encouraging me to finish high school,” said Imelda. “I do want to complete my course work so I can get my diploma, especially since I’m only one credit shy of graduation.”