Stay in school slogan not cutting it - - The News for South Mississippi

Some educators say Stay in School slogan not cutting it

PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Stay in school is a simple message that educators say doesn't pack the punch it needs.

DJ Batiste didn't think he'd get a high school diploma. That changed his senior year when he took Donna Porter's class.

"I graduated high school because of her. Because of Ms. Porter," admitted Batiste.

Now, Porter and Batiste travel across the country spreading the message that just one mentor can stop a drop out. Mississippi has a 13.9% drop out rate. It's nearly 3% down from last year.

"You can't make a student want to stay in school but if you give them empowerment and make them feel valuable and not invisible, you have a more likely chance of them wanting to change," Porter explained.

Porter started to get cooperation from the previously defiant Baptiste. Eventually, he beat the odds.

"I was going to go ahead, get in trouble, get kicked out of school, you know. And I just be a statistic like everyone else. I'd make my living by selling drugs on the street, to be honest," said Batiste.

Education advocates want to see more success stories. Even in junior high, students say they're hearing peers say, "I'll just drop out".

Seventh grader Daija Wilson said, "I ask them like why would you say that? Don't you want to be something in life. What does your mom think? Doesn't she want you to be something? And they were just like I really don't care what my mom thinks. It's me. I do what I want to."

The "Stop the Drop" campaign looks to the students to help get the word out.

 "It's just the way you grab their attention because we're kids and we know how to grab their attention," described seventh grader Kilando Chambers. 

Organizers say the communities will be key to encouraging an environment of success.

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