Westside Performance Learning Center

One local high school recently received recognition for its success in providing some students with an alternative to the traditional school setting, and the school is boosting graduation rates.

One class almost robbed Jason Hall of his chances at wearing a cap and gown.

Jason says, "I was looking at just dropping out or trying to get my GED, but instead there was the opportunity for me to come here , and I did."

Jason is just one of the many students at Westside High School who will now graduate high school thanks to the innovations in alternative education in the Peach State.

David Troy, Westside Principal, says, "Last year we had a young lady who had been out of school 50 or 60 days and she came here and got hooked on school. She was able to catch up. She was able to graduate with her class. There are several other stories just like that where kids were behind."

Westside is one of 14 performance learning centers in Georgia. The difference between Westside and every other public school is one third of its student body have been required to enroll, which makes Westside's recognition for highest graduation rate and number of mentors even more impressive.

Peggy Lester, a Westside teacher, says, "We kind of have an extra challenge to inspire those kids as well."

Principal David Troy adds, "They come here and they work with us and we're able to get them back on track. We're just excited about what we're doing with the kids."

Educators say their goal is reaching out to kids who have a hard time in the traditional school setting and making those futures a lot brighter.

Troy says, "A lot of our graduates have gone on to college, not just the work force. We have some that joined military services, some in college and some at technical school."

As for Jason, he says his diploma means a great future next spring as a Valdosta State Blazer. Of the 125 students who attended Westside last fall, 84 percent showed an improved academic average.