Former High School Dropouts March Through Center City To Restart Their Education

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 200 former high school dropouts marched down North Broad Street Wednesday. It was just one step in the effort to reclaim their education.

Their signs read “Stay Focused” and “Education is Now” as they marched from Broad and Poplar Streets to the Hampton Inn at 13th and Race Streets where they will officially become students once again.

untitled90 Former High School Dropouts March Through Center City To Restart Their Education

(credit: Cherri Gregg)

“Before I was here I didn’t really care about nothing, then I came here, it’s all positive energy,” says Shaney Campbell, 18.

Frustration lead Campbell to drop out of high school, but she decided to give it another try and enrolled in YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. Her goal is to study real estate and construction and move her life forward, but first she had to complete six days of mental toughness workshops.

“They make sure your mindset is in the right place,” says Campbell, who has plans to attend college after she graduates from YouthBuild in a year.

“A lot of people in the past told them they wouldn’t amount to anything, so we give them a new start,” says Patricia Rozier, a case manager at YouthBuild.

Rozier says the school gets a 1,000 applicants a year and whittles them down to about 220 youth, ages 18 to 20. She says the students must take the life skills and mindset training before they are accepted into the program, and some do not make it through.

“We want them to put on new resilience and reclaim their education,” says Rozier. “They now have a dream when a lot of them felt like they could not achieve things like going back to school because of mental health issues or other problems.”

Rozier says students can earn their high school diploma and get certified in a variety of areas. She says many of the students graduate and go on to college.

untitled91 Former High School Dropouts March Through Center City To Restart Their Education

(credit: Cherri Gregg)

“I stopped going to West Philadelphia High and I came here for a second chance,” says Dejaun Reed, 18.

Reed says he was very impatient and had an attitude that got him in trouble, but has changed his mindset.

“My people skills are better,” he says. “Instead of coming off the wrong way, they teach you patience and I’ve made new friends.”

Reed says he’ll take the Green Build track and learn about installing solar panels.

“I want to help my environment,” he says, “I want more opportunities. I want a career.”

Campell says she wants the same; she will study real estate and construction.

“I plan to go to a four-year college,” she says, “and then come back to my community and build houses.”

YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School helps out of school youth reconnect with their education to get high school diplomas and vocational education that leads to jobs, as well as the chance to attend college.

For more information, visit their website:

More from Cherri Gregg

Watch & Listen LIVE