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Just Can’t Afford to Drop out of School

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Armed with life experience and a desire to inspire high school students to stay in school, volunteers from Albuquerque-area Rotary clubs took over all first period classes at Freedom High School one day this week. Their message: education pays.

In New Mexico, individuals without a high school diploma earn an average of $17,785 per year compared to high school graduates, who earn an average of $25,637 per year. A two-year degree recipient earns on average $30,135, and a four-year degree recipient earns an average of $43,230. These data are drawn from the U.S. Census’s 2014 American Community Survey.

Rotary volunteers walked students through a budget exercise, during which students realized that high school graduates are better able to afford living expenses than people who drop out of school.  At the end of the session, one student expressed her appreciation for learning what it takes to live. She added, “knowing what is needed is helpful and so is knowing that we can do it.” In a survey response, one student plainly wrote, “School = Money.”

“It’s imperative for students to not only plan for the future, but also to understand what is involved to make those plans come to fruition,” says Freedom High School Principal Esther Keeton.

“Since its inception in 1916, Rotary has supported the community in many ways, ” says Rotary President Skip Cowan. “That’s why we do this.” Rotary has been instrumental in helping with the paving of Central Ave., forming the National History Museum symphony orchestra, and raising $5000 for Explora Museum programs.

In the next month, Rotarians will go through this exercise with Del Norte and La Cueva high school students.

Schools interested in having similar presentations can contact Teri Wimborne at Mission: Graduate. 

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