Charter school offers dropouts second chance

October 13, 2011 (CHICAGO)

"From my other high school it was really bad...Ds and Fs...Now it is like As, so I improved a lot," said Dalia Campuzano, El Cuarto Ano High School student.

Association House's El Cuarto Ano for student dropouts offers small class size, competitive academic studies, and one-on-one personal attention to each student.

At 16, Alexander Rodriguez dropped out of school because he felt lost in the overcrowded classrooms and his grades were failing. Now as a student he has found a second home at El Cuarto and says he is encouraged to practice and perform his music.

"I was just in a crowd of so many students. I was not even being noticed," said Rodriguez. "It is like a sense of family. Everyone here is pretty close. I am able to talk to everyone."

Graduation rate is between 80 to 98 percent. With many of the students either getting a job or heading to college, their mission to give the students a second chance.

"We serve them from A to Z. We serve them not only with their education but with their social and emotional needs also," said Anthony Rodriguez, assistant principal, El Cuarto Ano High School . "We never write kids off. If they have any hurdle in their life, we help them to overcome the hurdle and not let the hurdle stop them."

Single mom Juana Estrada says she decided to attend El Cuarto because of the day care program that allows her to bring her daughter to school while she attends classes.

"You get to see your child, go downstairs and feed 'em and if there is anything wrong with her they call you," said Estrada. "She gets to learn and be with other kids that is what I wanted."

""It showed me a lot that I can do more with my life," said Kayla Velasquez, volunteer and graduate of El Cuarto High School.

Most of the graduates either get jobs or go to college .

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