Washoe's door-to-door graduation campaign doubles in size

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Washoe's door-to-door graduation campaign doubles in size

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On Saturday, about 500 volunteers for the Washoe County School District will visit 800 students at their homes in an effort to keep them in school and on track to graduate.

On Saturday, about 500 volunteers for the Washoe County School District will visit 800 students at their homes in an effort to keep them in school and on track to graduate. That's more than double the number of volunteers and homes visited last year during the district's door-to-door campaign.

The increase this year is part of the district's broader goal to strategically target juniors and seniors who may not graduate. The district hopes to boost the graduation from 72 percent to 80 percent by 2015. If they're going to reach that ambitious target, Superintendent Pedro Martinez says they need to get very personal with students.

"And so when we get out there, first of all, there's a connection made with the parents, so we're talking not only to the child, but the parents themselves. The community gets to actually understand the circumstance of what's going on, because so many times people make perceptions that parents don't care, the children don't care, they're not motivated. And what we find is that there are different stories everywhere."

Martinez says last year he met a student who had fallen behind because she was working three jobs to help pay the rent. He says the campaign allows for one-on-one time with students facing similar issues. Last year, 80 percent of the students they visited either stayed in school or went on to graduate.

Initially the district had plans to target 1,000 students, but Martinez says many approached him once they heard the district was planning to come to their house and came up with a graduation plan.

"They said 'look, you don't have to come.' I will check in, so we sort of set up a little contract with them: they're going to check in with us every week making sure they're going to class, and making sure they're going to our programs we set up with them to either pass proficiency or catch up on credit."

The campaign begins tomorrow morning. Volunteers will be in the neighborhoods of Wooster and Galena High, as well as Damonte Ranch.