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Phoenix Program Prevents Dropouts

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- At 3 p.m., most of the students are gone from Elizabeth Tate High School, but in the library, there's a small group hard at work, including students like Janaki Lindberg.

"I don't want to drop out, I really don't, but I just couldn't take it," Lindberg said.

Lindberg was bouncing around from school to school, not fitting in and feeling stressed enough to almost call it quits -- until she found the Phoenix Program.

"Hopefully, I want to be done by winter break. That's my goal," Lindberg said about graduating.

And that is success, said Phoenix Program coordinator Kate Richey.

"American compulsory education isn't a one-size fits all," Richey said.

Because of that, the Phoenix Program starts after the regular school day is over, serves a meal and helps with job placement. It is aimed at students who have to work full time, are teen parents, or who just don't excel in a 1,000-person high school. It serves students whose parents are illegal immigrants and single moms -- and students who are homeless.

Since it started just two years ago, the Phoenix Program has helped 45 students graduate with a high school diploma, not a GED. It makes them more marketable for jobs, but it means more than that, too.

"It makes them realize that they can work towards more and earn more and get more out of their life," said Tate guidance counselor Kristina Brown.

As for Lindberg, when she's done with this experience, she's ready to move on to the next one.

"All you see on the movies is like, all these cool places, and it's like, I want to see that, I want to experience what those people are experiencing," Lindberg said.

Students interested in the Phoenix Program need to be referred by their current school, and complete an intake with Brown to be accepted.
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