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High School Overcomes Poverty and Unemployment Issues in Stride

Columbus Unified High School, Columbus, Kans.

"We're here and committed to our school" is the rallying cry at Columbus Unified High School in Columbus, Kans. Because the poverty (45 percent) and unemployment (25 percent) rates are obstacles in the community, Principal Steven Jameson understands how important it is for his students to graduate high school with strong skills in reading, writing, and math.

Because the school is determined to give students a home away from home that provides endless motivation, support, and guidance, seminar teachers become personal adult advocates for each student to ensure that they reach their goals before and after graduation. The MetLife Foundation and whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals recognized Columbus Unified High School as a 2011 Breakthrough School.

Underserved Students Realize Dreams of College

Bronx Preparatory Charter School, Bronx, N.Y.

Bronx Preparatory Charter School in New York prepares underserved middle and high school students for higher education, civic involvement, and lifelong success by holding high expectations and providing a caring, structured environment.

The school's 700 students in grades 5–12 spend 50 percent more time in school than their peers in traditional public schools, and school heavily emphasizes math and literacy. Middle school students attend up to two hours each in math and English daily and are introduced to high school-level content in 8th grade. During the 11th and 12th grades, students can take college-level courses.

College is integrated into every aspect at Bronx Prep, with rooms named after colleges and universities and teachers constantly referring to students' future higher education. Consistent science, social studies, physical education, and artistic block scheduling provide a well-rounded education. Middle and high school students spend one hour a day, four days a week participating in classes such as piano, violin, dance, and drama. One hundred percent of the school's first three high school graduating classes were admitted to four-year colleges.

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