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Opportunity knocks in drive to reconnect youth to school

August 19, 2013
Reconnection photo shoot
Students who reconnected to high school and their PPS outreach workers will be part of an ad campaign this fall for the PPS Reconnection Campaign.

Teachers, outreach workers, staff and community members are turning out Saturday Sept. 14 to knock on the doors of students who are not in school and invite them back to the classroom as part of PPS' third annual Reconnection Campaign, a key district initiative to get more students to graduation and beyond.

The PPS Reconnection Campaign builds on efforts that began in fall 2011 as part of the PPS Reconnection Services, a team of outreach workers who contact students who have left school to get them reconnected.

This year, three students who got reconnected to school will be part of an advertising campaign along with their PPS outreach workers in an effort to inspire more youth to reconnect to their future. Look for their photograph on the sides of TriMet buses in September.

Sebatian Rojas, 16, reconnected at Rosemary Anderson High School, one of PPS' community based alternative schools. Patrick Stupfel, 21, enrolled at and graduated from Alliance High School, an in-district alternative program, and is now a student at Portland Community College and working part time for state Rep. Alissa Keny Guyer. And Kervencia Limage, 21, graduated from Portland Night High School, located at Benson High School and also an in-district program, in June. She plans to enroll at Portland State University.

A spectrum of success-building efforts
The reconnection work is part of a spectrum of efforts to keep more students on track to graduate.

The efforts start with prevention. Such summer programs as Ninth Grade Counts helps incoming freshmen make a smoother transition into high school. A next step is identifying students who are falling behind and at risk of dropping out and intervening.

The Reconnection Services office was launched in 2011 to take the additional step of locating students who have dropped out, making  a personal connection with them and working to get them back into a school that works for them.

Reconnection staff work all year, tackling the list of students who have left school - calling them and showing up at their homes. Each fall, they make a special push to knock on students' doors.

Door knocking proves effective
Last Sept. 15, staff and volunteers knocked on 121 doors and made face to face contact with 58 families, 48 of whom requested and recieved follow up from an outreach worker. Thirty-seven students had either moved out of the district or they turned out to be enrolled in a GED program, online school or community-based alternative school. When no one was home, door knockers left information and outreach workers followed up.

Community members who wish to participate in the door knocking campaign Saturday Sept. 14, please view the invitation.

Portland Public Schools encourages community members who know of a student who has left school without graduating to get in touch with PPS Reconnection Services at 503-916-3956 or reconnect@pps.net to find a school that fits and reinvest in success.

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