Monday, June 10, 2019

Hudson High School “At Risk” Teens to Graduate with Help from S.O.S. Program

Land O’ Lakes, FL – (June 7, 2019) – Pasco County Schools developed the Support Our Students (S.O.S.) program in 2017 to help students who were missing school, and missing their marks, make it to graduation. And in its inaugural year at Hudson High School, that’s exactly what it has done.

A total of 27 at-risk Hudson High School students were targeted for the new S.O.S. program. With a lot of hard work from the school’s staff and the students themselves, 11 of these S.O.S. students will graduate at the USF Yuengling Center Saturday, June 8, with three more students on track to earn their diplomas later this summer. Some of these students have raised their GPAs by more than a full point, and between them, have recovered 217 classes this school year.

Each of the students graduating through the program has overcome their own unique hardships. Homelessness, hospitalization, personal crisis, and problems at home did not keep them from succeeding. Support staff called and texted, picked students up, drove them home, fed, and even clothed them to keep them working toward their goal.

“[The students] have worked tirelessly… recovering their past mistakes as well as completing their senior year obligations. We had good days, a few bad ones, and yet they kept on working,” said Mike Gutauskas, S.O.S. Instructor at Hudson High School. He added, “Without the S.O.S. program most, if not all, of these students would not have graduated; they would have pursued their GED or even dropped out.”

The S.O.S. program offers supports to students who are struggling in the traditional school setting or have already dropped out of school. The goal is to provide dropout prevention and class recovery options that will lead to a high school diploma. Most of the S.O.S program’s students have fallen behind because of absenteeism, failing grades, or just a lack of motivation. The S.O.S. program promotes success among these at-risk students by offering educational services designed to accommodate different learning styles, academic and affective needs, interests, and special talents. These services help students develop social, problem-solving, and vocational skills that allow them to become productive members of society. Furthermore, the S.O.S. program provides opportunities for students to complete a career and technical program that will ultimately lead to employment.

The district currently offers the S.O.S. program at Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Cypress Creek, Fivay, Hudson, Gulf, James W. Mitchell, and Pasco high schools. Based on the success of the program, two additional schools will be added for next school year—Anclote and River Ridge high schools.

A total of 312 students were targeted for S.O.S. during the 2018-2019 school year, and 238 of these students have graduated or will graduate on-time with their diplomas. More students are expected to complete their graduation requirements over the summer. These were all students who struggled in the traditional model and whose chances for graduating were in jeopardy without the S.O.S. program.