Local students get second chance to receive diplomas

By Bob Robinson

Star Staff

   There's a "can do" attitude among students in Elizabethton and Carter County when it comes to working toward a high school diploma, thanks to the Appalachian Youth Partnership (AYP).
   Students get a second chance to pass a competency test to obtain their high school diploma, thanks to the cooperative effort of the ETSU Center for Community Outreach, AYP and the Alliance for Business Technology.
   It all began in January of 2001 when the partnership received a $549,129 grant from the Northeast Tennessee Workforce Investment Board to provide training to low income youth in three areas: Basic, Occupational and Work Readiness Skills.
   AYP began at Elizabethton High School in April 2001.
   Jenny Lockmiller, director of AYP, said the program's success, thus far, is attributed to a coalition of public, private and non-profit entities dedicated to providing comprehensive and progressive youth programs in Carter, Johnson, Washington and Unicoi counties.
   Partner agencies provide services that the school is not equipped to carry out, such as industry and business linkages, volunteer adult and student mentors, and after school and summer work programs.
   Dr. Judy Blevins, director of Elizabethton City Schools (ECS), said "AYP allows each school system the opportunity to customize the program to meet the needs of sophomores, juniors and seniors."
   Isaac Martin is the AYP youth coordinator at Elizabethton and Unaka High Schools. He works with students who have not passed their competency test, which is required for graduation.
   To help students prepare for the test, AYP participate in:
   * Vision Quest, a series of field trips to area employers, museums, and state parks to give students an insight into available job opportunities.
   * Even It Up, a computer concepts class which teaches computer terms, including parts of a computer, names and uses of software programs, and technical skills. Students also get to build their own computer and take it home with them.