Grant money will help continue drop-out prevention program

Chapin High School Principal Akil Ross / Sara Jane Harris

COLUMBIA (WACH) " The South Carolina Department of Education announced more than $1.4 million in grants to fund programs that prevent students from dropping out of school.According to officials with the education agency, 12 schools won $52,000 or more to launch new programs while 42 schools won $6,000 to continue their existing ones.One of those 42 schools was Chapin High School.Chapin High School Principal Akil Ross said there's nothing more painful than watching a student drop-out of school. "You remember each face, it's very hard to see a student and give them everything you have and they decide to leave school," said Ross.But a new program at Chapin called "The Gentleman's Society" hopes to make drop-outs a thing of the past.

Ross said the idea of the club is to identify students who are at-risk for quitting school and reward them with a tailored jacket if they meet specific criteria for an entire semester.

"The students they sign a contract with the school the contract says they will maintain their grades they will commit to a professional goal, and they will also commit to being gentlemen," said Ross.According to Dr. John Lane with the State Department of Education The Gentlemen's Society" is one of several grant-funded drop-out prevention programs that are working in South Carolina."We started this program in 2007 through 2008 and just this past year we've seen an 11-percent reduction in the number of students that dropped out as opposed to last year," said Lane.And Ross said Chapin will continue to use the grant money to help its students stay in school."You're rewarded when you see those students not only decide to stay in school but to excel while in school and so that's the biggest pay off," said Ross.