Seniors return to classrooms as Dallas ISD makes push for students to graduate

Monday was the first day back in the classroom in more than a year for some Dallas ISD seniors.

Their return is part of the district’s push to make sure all seniors cross the stage in June, as a large number of seniors are currently falling behind.

It felt like the first day back after summer break, but on steroids, at some campuses. There were bands, balloons, cheering and DJ’s spinning as students walked into Pinkston High School.

It’s a chance for seniors to finish the last two months of their high school academic careers together.

"It’s really a good feeling. It’s like a little kid eating birthday cake," said Decoran Jackson, senior.

Dallas ISD launched the "Finish Strong" campaign — tapping teachers, community members, and alumni to urge students to finish the year with on-campus learning.

Only 10 seniors have been attending in-person learning at Pinkston High School this school year. Officials said they had 106 students out of class of 144 show up on Monday.

Students admitted virtual learning has been challenging.

"At home we really don’t do our work, but now we can because it’s like they are going to make us do it," said Jose Coronado, senior.

Currently, a staggering 40 percent of DISD seniors are not on track to graduate.

"They’ve been cheated out of most of most of their memories because of COVID. We want them back and we want them to know the community stands behind them 100%," said George Castro, Pinkston H.S. alumnus.

The on-campus experience about more than just boosting grades and the graduation rate.

"That social and emotional learning is so important, kids need that face to face, that interaction, that hands on," said Raymond Shaver, Assistant Principal Lincoln H.S.

For students it’s an attempt to reclaim what was lost over the past year. Administrators say they’ll have extra activities to foster camaraderie.

"I’ve seen more of my classmates today than I have the whole year," said Jocelyn Contreras, senior

It’s also a leadership opportunity for some students.

"We can lend a helping hand, do tutoring if that’s possible, I don’t want none of our fellow seniors to drop out," Chasha Burkhalter, senior.

An outcome that’s perilously close for some, but not if administrators can help it.

"We are here to help you, we are going to do all we can to get you across that stage and get you ready for your future," said Shaver.


Dallas ISD starting Finish Strong campaign to get seniors back on track to graduate

4 out of 10 Dallas ISD seniors not on track to graduate, district reports