ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – Students drop out of high school for a lot of reasons: financial issues, pregnancy or just being negatively influenced by the wrong people. Now the Arlington Independent School District and City of Arlington have teamed up to tell dropouts “its never too late to learn.”

At 600 New York Learning Center students are offered flexible schedules, access to counselors, tutoring, daycare and all the resources people who’ve dropped out of school need to help them get their high school diploma.

“We have students that need to work. We have students that have their own families.  We have students with all kinds if crises in their lives,” explained AISD dropout prevention director Wendy Carrington.

Six-hundred New York Learning Center is the first center of its kind in Texas and is set up in a building donated by the City of Arlington.

Officials in the school district say demand for the services being offered there is so great that students are showing up even before remodeling of the building is complete.

Peter Rangel had a crisis that nearly cost him his education. Things changes when doctors discovered the 18-year-old’s mother had a tumor behind her eye.  Rangel dropped out of school to take care of his younger brothers and to deal with his own emotional distress, while his mother went through three dangerous surgeries.

“During the whole thing, I’m not going to lie, I was scared out of my mind,” he said. “I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s the glue to the house.  Without her — those months were chaos in the house.  Nothing was getting done. Everything was going bad.”
That “everything” included school for Rangel, who dropped out for four months.  But the motto at 600 New York is never give up.  Educators and administrators were able to get Rangel enrolled and offer him a class schedule that worked around his family’s needs. Now the teenager is not only caught up with school, but is ahead of his classmates academically.

“When I felt that nobody cared about my school anymore, everybody gave up on me, I turned around and they [600 New York] opened their arms,” Rangel recalled. “They really helped me a lot.  Most of my credits I already got ‘em.  I’m actually working on next year’s stuff.”

Carrington said the idea for the learning center just made sense. “Bad things come and bad things happen. But how you deal with it and get up and move on is what’s really important.  It doesn’t have to be the end.  It just means something is different.”

The 600 New York Learning Center will offer its different method of education to hundreds of students when it’s fully operational in the fall.

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