A group of South Bay students who were on the verge of dropping out as freshmen have defeated the odds and will graduate with a high school diploma this year.
The students at Andrew Hill High School in San Jose will graduate with the help of a program run by the Firehouse Community Development Corporation. The program focused on students who had bad grades with truancy and behavioral problems.
"It starts with moral support," said Israel Lara, who brought the group of students to the program. "You'd be surprised when you have someone who believes in you."
Lara has an office on the Andrew Hill campus, where his team holds weekly sessions with students. The students can also drop in for help or advice.
Eighteen of an initial 40 students Lara sent to the Firehouse Community Development Corporation program are graduating this year.
"I'm excited," said Angel Cruz, a senior student. "My whole family is going to be there."
One of the graduating students received six F grades his freshman year. That same student graduated from Andrew Hill with a 3.9 grade point average.
College was in illusion for many of the students years ago, but is now a reality made possible by a group willing to believe in students even when the the students did not believe in themselves.
"Nervous," senior Malrese Quiterio said of life after graduating. "Never-racking because now I'm going to go to college."