Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

Attacking high school dropout dilemma

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on November 23, 2010

To build long-term strength as a nation, we need to recognize that our greatest asset is our children and act accordingly. Ensuring their success means a vibrant country of strength.

Yet, a sustainable nation with high quality of life is threatened by our most precious asset dropping out of school. Thirty percent of all of America’s high-school students fail to graduate on time, and worse, nearly half of African-American and Latino males never graduate.

Nationally, in the class of 2010 more than 1.3 million students did not receive diplomas. Long-term studies show that high- school dropouts are extremely costly on our social services.

As part of the mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and of our local club in Oxnard and Port Hueneme, we support students’ academic success and graduation. This commitment is re-affirmed with our new tagline, “Great futures start here!”

Boys & Girls Club alumnus and spokesperson Denzel Washington noted: “Our goal is simple to state but hard to achieve. We want to help every Boys & Girls Club member advance to the next grade level every year, and graduate from high school on time, prepared with the attitude, knowledge and confidence to achieve his or her full potential. It’s what we mean by ‘Great futures start here.’”

In Oxnard, Taylor Penny is one whose great future started at the club. She was poised for failure at age 9, relocated from Las Vegas to Oxnard as her family struggled with unemployment, poverty and other serious issues. Taylor’s role model was her older sister who dropped out of high school, pregnant at the age of 17.

On the advice of an aunt, Taylor began attending the Boys & Girls Clubs in Oxnard. Here she found homework help, mentors, activities and friends. The club became her anchor and the wind in her sails, despite ongoing hardships at home.

Now a junior at Oxnard High School, Taylor is a role model to many children at the club and at school. With stellar grades in all college prep and honors classes, she runs varsity track, is actively involved in ASB and, in her spare time, is a competitive cheerleader with the California All Stars.

In addition, she is a dedicated volunteer helping other challenged children to believe in themselves. Taylor participates in the Keystone leadership group and also volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club several days a week as a tutor, mentor and administrative assistant. Taylor’s goal is to become a doctor.

While much is written about the impact of teachers and parents in determining the success of students, the fact is the influence of out-of-school time and summer youth programs is also important.

A recent national Harris survey of Boys & Girls Clubs alumni found that 90 percent graduate from high school or obtain a GED, and roughly two-thirds of them credit club staff with having made a positive impact upon their success in high school.

Specific to Oxnard and Port Hueneme, only 62 percent of students graduate from high school. Among Boys & Girls Club members, the graduation rate is 96 percent.

All data aside, Taylor is living proof that Boys & Girls Club programs really work.

On behalf of the more than 7,200 young people we serve, I ask you to please join our effort in solving the high-school dropout crisis.

Let’s make graduation a communitywide priority, and support the Boys & Girls Clubs in helping these kids succeed. It’s the best investment we can make to ensure a great future for all.

— Tim Blaylock is chief professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.

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One Response

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  1. Elizabeth Ribons said, on January 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    I too am deeply concerned for our youth. Many leave school because of financial and personal reasons – many asks themselves “What for”?
    My experience is that you may have great, marketable skills but if you do not have a GED (at the least) you will spend the rest of your life explaining why.
    I have just launched a web mag that inspires this age group to consider the options. That school may not provide all the answers but it is important. My desire is to provide a portal into the options that they may never have considered….an “in” on the HOW.

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