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Cedar Rapids high school students get second chance at passing classes

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 8:04 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Some high school students in the Cedar Rapids Community School District are getting a second chance to pass failed classes so they can get back on track to graduate.

A new nonprofit called Empowering Youths of Iowa is putting on the credit recovery program with support from the district. Cain Hird, a sophomore at Washington High School is taking part in the program.

”Due to COVID and like everyone switching to online I just fell behind in classes because it just didn’t feel right,” Hird said. “It didn’t feel like school it just felt like a side project.”

The organization wants to make sure students graduate on time.

“If they don’t graduate with their class, nine times out of 10 they won’t return to school,” Sarah Swayze, the director and founder of Empowering Youths of Iowa, said.

Swayze originally planned to launch the nonprofit in September. The organization got its start this month instead of then, after the Cedar Rapids Community School District reached out for assistance with credit recovery.

”It was time to take action because of everything that happened. Our kids lost a lot of learning,” Swayze said.

The program works around a student’s schedule to provide flexibility.

”Some of them come in here for two hours because they have to go to work,” Swayze said.

The flexibility doesn’t come at the cost of hard work, though.

”You can do it how slow you want to or how fast you want to but at the end of the day they’re going to push you, they’re going to push you enough to want to do it,” Unique Franklin said, a junior at Washington High School, said.

Franklin told us the program has encouraged her to give back.

”They’re giving to us, they’re empowering us to help empower other people in the world,” Franklin said.

Leaders at the organization are empowering students to not just pass classes, but to also look far beyond high school.

”My mother is a therapist, she doesn’t know this. I want to be a therapist because she inspired me to do so,” Elaina Williams, a junior at Jefferson High School, said.

Swayze told us it all starts with students wanting to excel themselves.

”The only three qualifications to be here is the student has to want to be here, the student has to be willing to work and the student for the summer program must have failed a course,” Swayze said.

”Just having a second chance when I would have otherwise just completely flunked and would have had to restart the grade, it feels nice,” Hird said.

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