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Utah schools trying to help at-risk youth

By Mary Richards | Posted - Mar 18th, 2013 @ 11:34am



SALT LAKE CITY — Many at-risk students are slipping through the cracks, skipping school until they are forgotten or they end up not graduating.

That's setting themselves up for a hard life. But many educators are working hard to change these kids' lives by creating programs to target and help at-risk students.

It may be called something different in each district or in each school, but the purpose is the same — reaching out to students with problems with attendance, grades, social skills or bullying.

Granite District safe schools specialist Carol Cabanillas said they do a lot of teaching how to communicate.

"Because a lot of issues the students have are not having the proper skills they need to communicate, or they are misunderstanding other peoples' perspectives," Cabanillas said.

They also talk about leadership, relationship, values and decision making. She said Granite District sees 750 students a term in these classes, and many have become success stories, returning to tell thank their teachers years later.

It can take years to see the results, but Cabanillas said it's worth it. For example, Cabanillas worked with junior high gang member seven or eight years ago who is now a CNA and working on more.

"What we are trying to do is build up their protective factors, to counter the risk factors," she said.

Some are homeless, some are from a lower socio-economic class, many are prone to skip school, but Cabanillas said you can't give up on them.

"We have lessons on leadership, getting to know who they are, and where they want to go," she said.

Mary Richards

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