PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Over the past few years, the national high school graduation rate was about 86%. After Hurricane Michael made landfall in 2018, the Bay County graduation rate decreased.

High school can be hard for students on a good day but add difficult circumstances to the mix and a teen could decide to drop out before graduation.

Bay District School’s Recapture Program is helping dropouts come back and earn their diploma.

“We locate and get the 16 and overs who have quit coming to school for whatever reason and we offer them opportunities to complete their high school diploma in a variety of ways that may not include going back to traditional high school,” graduation interventionist Sue Bowen said.

School officials said drop-outs are often alone, homeless, or have children of their own.

“And so that’s why they dropped out of school, they think that they can’t work and go to school at the same time,” intervention specialist David Welby said. “And that’s just not true. So you know, there are some very flexible alternatives that we discuss with them.”

One student, in particular, dropped out in 10th grade after being seriously hurt in a car accident and ended up in a coma. When he woke up, he had brain damage and never thought he was smart enough to graduate from high school. He was entered into the Recapture Program and he was able to get his diploma.

“David and I are really good about, you tell us what the barrier is, and we’re going to tell you how to get around it,” Bowen said.

The Recapture Program is asking the community for help in providing resources for these children. If you would like more information, contact Bay District Schools.