Harlem High recently expanded the scope of a new program meant to inspire students to obtain their diplomas.
Commitment to Graduate encourages community involvement in motivating students to finish high school.
"It's an effort to get them involved to support each other and to get the community involved to support us," said Harlem High graduation coach David Thibodeau.
"The big thing ... is that it's bringing a positive perspective in promoting graduation. It allows the students to participate and brings our community, business partners and us together."
Harlem High, which typically produces the lowest graduation rate of any Columbia County school, launched the C2G program in December, but primarily focused it on the 2009 senior class.
This year, the C2G initiative includes all of Harlem High's students and even pupils at its feeder schools.
During the first two days of school this year, Thibodeau selected 80 students across all grade levels and at different stages of academic success to participate in a workshop conducted by C2G founder Lisa Spain.
"The first day they learned what their leadership strengths were and developed those," Thibodeau said. "On the second day, they developed ideas and plans on how they could promote graduation and Commitment to Graduate."
Those ideas included promoting C2G to pupils at elementary feeder schools.
Before the 2008-09 school year concluded, Thibodeau and Harlem High principal Dietmar Perez spoke to Harlem Middle eighth-graders, the current freshman class. They encouraged them using C2G ideals and handed out C2G bracelets.
Though the focus for C2G has widened, Thibodeau said he still works to encourage seniors.
"Along with C2G, I challenged our seniors by giving them a number -- 5.22," he said. "(May 22, 2010) is their graduation day. I challenged them to keep their focus on that day, because that is their day. ... They have to continue striving. They made it 12 years, but they've got one more to go."
Supported by class-ring maker Jostens and its local representative, Georgia Campus Services, C2G relies heavily on community and business support.
Interested parties have donated funds and materials for such motivational items like C2G T-shirts, decals and stickers, Thibodeau said.
Georgia Campus Services donated the needed funding to conduct the student workshop with Spain.
Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate to C2G should call Thibodeau at (706) 556-5980 or Martinez-based Georgia Campus Services at (706) 868-0515.
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