Angelo Jones has a clear reason for graduating from high school.
“My grandma,” he said. “My grandma wants me to graduate.”
So when he found out he was missing the credits he needed to graduate from Douglass High School, giving up wasn't an option.
“I've got to get up and do what I've got to do,” the high school senior said. “That's your future.”
Jones is part of a student body that found out last fall that years of academic mismanagement has led to gaps in their transcripts and unnecessary coursework. For some, graduation is in doubt.
The former principal resigned. A new administration team is in place. Starting this semester, a group of students are taking evening classes after the rest of the student body is long gone.
Jones is taking a technology class.
“Things like that happen sometimes,” he said. “That's just life.”
Students stay motivated
Long shadows cross the Douglass High School courtyard. The school day has been over for a few hours, but some students are still in class.
More than 30 juniors and seniors are enrolled in nine courses, interim Principal Barbara Davis said. Class sizes range from one to seven students.
Students are given afternoon snacks donated by Sonic and McDonald's.
They're given encouragement from teachers and staff. Motivation cannot waiver, Davis said.
“This is only for a moment,” Davis said. “Once you get finished with this moment, you'll understand why your high school diploma is so important.”
In addition to night school, students took classes during winter break. More will stay in school during spring break.
Christian Gray, a senior, said he doesn't mind going to night school. He is taking the second semester of state history. He wants to study physical therapy at the University of Central Oklahoma this fall.
“If it involves graduation,” Gray said, “you've got to do it. ... If you give up, you give up on your whole career.”
Shayna Bruner is taking the first semester of government. She transferred from Putnam City Schools for her last semester of high school and is missing the class. She wasn't too happy about coming to Douglass. She'd heard bad things.
“Now that I'm here, it's not as bad as others are saying,” Bruner said. “People say that Douglass is such a big and bad school. It's not.”
Bruner hopes to study biology or other science at UCO.
to help situation
Students have been positive and flexible, said Joyce Henderson, an academic consultant and former administrator. Discipline has improved.
Henderson, who has been retired for six years, works three days a week at the school. Her contract ends Jan. 31.
The community has responded strongly to the cry for help, Henderson said. A dossier of volunteers and donors has been created.
“Accolades to the community and mentors who have stretched out their arms to the Douglass family,” Henderson said. “We sincerely appreciate everything they have done.”
So many individuals and businesses have reached out that Henderson hasn't been able to contact them all. She's in the process of pairing students with community mentors before she leaves at the end of the month.
“We know everything isn't perfect,” Henderson said. “But you can inhale and exhale and know it's getting better.”