Summit Urges Kids To Stay In School 

Approximately 3000 high school students drop out of school each year in Maine. The University of Maine is hosting a dropout awareness summit this week to try and combat this growing problem. “In Maine, we only have about 1 million people. if we’re losing 3000 a year, where they don’t have skills to take care of their own lives as well as contribute to their communities, that is an epidemic,” says Shelley Reed, Project Mnager for the summit.America’s Promise Alliance is putting on the two-day seminar that ends Tuesday. Three students who dropped out of school, but have since returned, were on hand to tell their stories and to provide some hope to students who are considering dropping out. “If you’re having trouble in school, don’t be scared to ask for help,” advises Anthony Lary, “which I know a lot of kids are scared to ask for help, and that is the first step, because once you ask for help, the doors are open and you can pretty much do whatever you want.” Lary dropped out of school after his freshman year but he returned, and in June, he picked up his diploma with his 4-month-old son in attendance.One thing he and others at the summit are trying to do is urge people to stop using the word, dropout. “We’re just talking about what effect the word dropout has on people,” says Courtney Connoly, a senior at Portland High School, “and we try to share our own stories, and try to find a new name other than drop out.””When you ask a person what a dropout is,” adds Lary, “what comes out is usually like a negative thing like deadbeat or loser, and nobody likes to be called any of those names. so, it’s like when you say dropout all that stuff is attached.”Lary is considering applying to colleges soon and plans to study photography and film making. He has this message for his son, “I hope he’s proud of me, and I hope to see him graduate some day. i really want too.”