GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - New numbers released by the State Department of Education show Mississippi's dropout rate went up point 2 percent in 2010 to 17 percent. The state is striving to reach a dropout rate of 13 percent or less by 2013.
North Gulfport 7th and 8th Grade School is doing it's part to keep children in school. Saturday class was in session, but it wasn't math or social studies the students were learning, it was something much more important.
Assistant Principal of 8th Grade Judy Boyd explained, "It's about the importance of kids staying in school."
Boyd said the Dropout Prevention Summit is vital at this time in the children's lives.
"The decisions they make can really impact their future, and we want to promote the positive for them instead of the negative," Boyd said.
The summit gave students a look at the future, but the main message was in order to get the future they want, they have to stay in school.
Retha Henderson who is more affectionately known by the students as "Grandma" is on the school drop out team.
Henderson said, "We want them to see that right now is the time to prepare and take every opportunity there is."
In addition to the future, the summit allowed for students to speak to their fellow classmates about issues that cause kids to dropout.
Student Ariana Matthews said, "There has been a lot of cases where some kids have been bullied, and it's very hard. I have been through bullying before, so I know how some of these speeches that we all did can really reach and touch half the kids who went through it."
Henderson is hopeful the summit encouraged students to stay in school.
"I know that with parents, teachers and students all together, we can make a difference," Henderson said.
"I hope for all these students to all become successful, productive citizens in society," Boyd said.