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Grant aimed at preparing students for workforce

Struggling high school students in the Butler County area will be receiving a little help in the near future.

Gov. Robert Bentley recently awarded $136,816 to the Butler County Board of Education for programs aimed at helping students finish high school.

One of the programs supported by the grant is the Second Chance Dropout Recovery program, which helps students between the ages of 16 and 21 who have not finished high school to complete their education and prepare for a job in the workforce.

Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt couldn’t be happier about receiving the grant.

“Professionally, I know it’s necessary for us to have those opportunities available to students, not just here in Butler County, but throughout the state,” Douthitt said. “Unfortunately, everyone can’t have access to the same resources, but of course we’re happy to have it and we hope that it’s something we can keep as long as it’s necessary.”

The funds will also support Operation Graduation, which focuses on Greenville High School students who are at-risk of failing because of poor grades, poor attendance or behavioral problems.

“There are some kids who cannot handle the rigors of high school course work and sometimes they get distracted,” Douthitt said. “There are times when they distract others and, as a result, some of them make the decision on their own to pursue another path.”

The program offers tutoring and online courses to students to help them earn their high school diploma or GED.

Participants of these programs can also earn certification in basic job skills through a partnership with Reid State Technical College, and instructors also stress the importance of developing important skills pertaining to the workforce, such as preparing job applications, dressing appropriately for interviews and learning to work with others as a team.

Douthitt said steering young people back onto the correct path as well as preparing them for what comes after graduation is what is most important.

“There are kids that fly under the radar in the community for six or seven years and never realize what they are truly on Earth to do,” Douthitt said. “I think everyone ought to step away from high school with the idea of finding a purpose, and the opportunity to graduate or get a GED with career aspirations or putting someone on a career path is really what education is all about.”

Officials estimate that 130 people will complete the programs in the next 12 months. After exiting the programs, participants receive job-hunting assistance from the Alabama Career Center in Greenville.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Labor.