GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Climb CDC has been helping alternative route students earn their GEDs. Now the non-profit is offering students the chance at actual high school diplomas.
For years, students would come into the program at Climb after dropping out of high school. Most would graduate with their GEDs. Then in 2014, the format and content requirements to obtain a GED changed.
"I believe fewer than 100 people in the state of Mississippi have passed that particular exam," said lead instructor Michael Reffalt.
So, to help the students continue to succeed, Climb CDC started offering students the chance to earn their high school diplomas.
"I am very excited about it because it has been so successful for us," said Reffalt.
He recently helped five students graduate with their high school diplomas; the first class of its kind from Climb.
"What I really like about the program is its unique transfer credit policies," said Reffalt.
According to Reffalt, these policies allow students to use existing high school credits and service hours towards their official diploma provided through Penn Foster Education.
"It just goes hand in hand with our overall purpose, which is to build kids able to be self-reliant," said Reffalt.
Anika Moore and Malcolm Mccantz both dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, and both earned their diplomas at Climb. Moore remembers the moment she decided to change her direction.
"I was striving for my GED and then Mr. Mike was like, 'You can get your high school diploma.' And I was like, 'Really? I'd rather do that,'" she said.
That's the same kind of attention that Mccantz said he received from Reffalt.
"Wow, this is the first time a teacher has talked to me like this. Hands on, contact, helping me get my high school diploma," said Reffalt.
Both Mccantz and Moore earned their diplomas within two months. They say it was a much better route for them, but they admit it was no walk in the park.
"It was no slacking off. They were on their job, everybody was doing what they were supposed to do," said Mccantz.
Now, the two are headed to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to pursue their careers - an outcome that may not have been possible without the help they received at Climb CDC.
According to Reffalt, the diploma program has two options. One option is accredited and accepted at Universities and the military.
Climb CDC is now enrolling individuals ages 16-24. If interested, you can apply in person or call before August 24th. That number is (228) 864-6677.