Kids who drop out of high school have problems, often big ones. But so do many of those who stay and graduate. The difference is that the latter don't give in, don't give up, don't stop, don't drop. They are, in a word, " undroppable " -- which is what Schenectady High School Principal Diane Wilkinson wants her students to be, and why she's bringing in a national campaign of the same name to inspire and help them.
The campaign is social-media driven. Its centerpiece is short videos from students and alumni who have had various difficulties -- academic, social, familial -- that made them feel like quitting, but found ways of coping with them and staying focused on graduation. That degree is the sine qua non for a student, the basis for any kind of success in today's society.
The peer-to-peer approach is what makes this campaign different from the usual message delivered by teachers, administrators, guidance counselors. Kids get to see others who have faced challenges, just like them, and didn't give up, persevered. They may be inspired, get some practical tips, perhaps even a mentor.
On Monday the first such video (by a 2012 graduate) was shown on various screens around the school, and there will soon be more from students, alumni, even faculty who had struggles earlier and nearly didn't make it. Those videos will be posted on the national campaign's website, undroppable .com
The challenges many inner-city children in Schenectady face are not to be minimized, such things as poverty, violence, alcoholism and drug addiction in the family, parents in prison.
Some won't be able to overcome and will drop out, regardless of what the school does or doesn't do. But most can beat the odds, provided they have a goal and are committed, and the school is committed to them. This campaign is about fostering both kinds of commitment, and changing a culture.