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Students tell their stories: I tried cyber school … I was going to give up school.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia. In researching our edition on "boosting graduation rates for all," the Notebook interviewed young people who had dropped out and were now reengaging in school. We asked why they left, why they returned, and what obstacles they face. Some described heartbreaking personal situations and herculean struggles. But all displayed hope and optimism about their futures. They were all eager to tell their stories.

Simone Gause, 19, from Frankford, did well at First Philadelphia Charter School for Literacy through 8th grade. But due to health issues, her mother decided she should try cyber education for the first two years of high school.

This derailed her. Sitting at home with a computer and communicating with teachers remotely didn’t work for her. “It was hard,” she said. "I was teaching myself."

“I was going to give up school.”

An aunt told her about YESPhilly, where she found a caring mentor in the school counselor and the focus to buckle down and graduate. She plans to attend trade school so she can fulfill her goal of becoming a cosmetologist.

“I want to own my own business someday,” she said.

Watch our interview with Simone above.

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