At Locke High School in Watts, one of the toughest schools in the nation, charter school company Green Dot is making slow but steady progress. Studies show that Green Dot retained 800 more students at Locke by the end of last school year than the previous year. That amounts to a 36 percent increase in student retention.
Bryan Ordaz, Joanna Alatorre, and Damon Horton were three Locke students who faced tough odds and were willing to share their stories. Producer Angela Shelley caught up with each of them by phone to find out how they've managed in the year and a half since graduation.
Joanna is now in her second year of school at Santa Monica College. She describes why she chose that school, the struggle of balancing work and college, and what it means to have made it further than many Locke students ever do.
Damon says graduating felt good, because few expected him to make it that far. Now he has a new challenge. Damon quit his job two months ago in order to go back to school, but not everyone in his family fully supports his decision. Damon talks about why attitudes about work and school often clash in Watts.
Since graduating, Bryan says his self-confidence has gone up dramatically. He describes how that has enabled him to take his music to another level and why he regularly dons a suit and tie these days.
Associate Producer: Alexandria Gales; Audio Editors: Richie Duchon, Brian Frank