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New Programs Help Improve High School Graduation Rate in East Boston

Ten years ago, less than half the student body at East Boston High School graduated within four years. Today, they've reach a historic high in the number of students leaving with a diploma.

"I think, often, we get a lot of negative press, and I just really hope that people can see the incredible work that our students put in," said Meredith Hubbell, who teaches English as a second language to students from other countries.

Of the 1,300 students enrolled, more than 700 are considered English Language Learners (ELL), which means they need to gain proficiency in English. Despite that challenge, the school’s four-year graduation rate increased to nearly 75 percent last year, a milestone they attribute to an increased focus on the students who are typically working while attending school.

"They're here from Honduras, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Columbia," Hubbell explained. "Some of my students are living alone and are supporting themselves entirely their own."

Additional classes that allow students who are behind in their studies to catch up have also helped. Credit recovery courses, as they are called, have often been the reason many students complete their education.

"We were having a lot of dropouts before, where now we are having a lot of kids stay and want to graduate," said teacher Alexis Pellegrin.

Factors beyond the school's control, whether it be violence or instability at home, have also made the daily obligations of school more challenging. That is why Hubbell and her peers have made it their mission to ensure school removes them from those scenarios and provides some hope.

"I have one student whose brother was killed yesterday," Hubbell said. "Everyone is working so hard to be here, to have different opportunities and to have a life that feels safe and supported where they have an educational outcome they wouldn't otherwise have."

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