Goodwill's Workforce Academy motivating students to graduate high school

Published: May. 16, 2016 at 10:33 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2016 at 2:23 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A work program is helping motivate students who were at risk of dropping out to get their diplomas.

It's the last week for students in Goodwill's Workforce Academy Program this school year.

Brothers Leon and Thomas Holmes are part of the program. Leon says it's helping them reach their full potential. He's now making the A-B Honor Roll at school.

"Coming from where we come from it's not often we can be where we are now," Leon said.

As part of the program they have to attend school in order to come to work. They work about 20 hours a week.

"They just told me you go to school one day and you go to work the other day," Thomas said. "So basically I was feeling like we get paid to go to school, so I was all in. They caught my attention when they said money."

At Goodwill students spend most of their time in the Computer Works Recycling Center. They learn how to refurbish computers that are sold back to the community and other technical skills. Thomas says he's been interested in graphic design and enjoys being surrounded by computers. He's also interested in software engineering.

"It's kinda good to be in my first job to be somewhere where I wanted to be," Thomas said.

You can also find them working in the donation center.

Leon wants to become a chef and own a restaurant.

"My first time walking in here I was all smiles, I was ready to learn all this stuff about it, it was my first job." Leon said.

Kaley Briesmaster is the spokesperson for Palmetto Goodwill. This is the first year of the program and Goodwill partnered with R.B. Stall High School.

"It wasn't that they weren't smart or they weren't motivated they just needed the right combination to get them through school," she said. "Now they're going to college it's a crazy turn around."

There are 9 students in the program from Stall, it started with 14. Their GPAs have, on average, increased from 2.0 to 3.6.

"I'm glad this program was around, it definitely saved my high school career," Leon said.

The brothers will attend Trident Technical College in the Fall. Palmetto Goodwill officials say they're looking to partner with other high schools to help other students through this program. Participants have to be a junior or senior in high school.

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