Holmes HS IB program alumni speak out to save program - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Alumni speak to save college credit program at local high school

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COVINGTON, KENTUCKY (FOX19) -

A group of alumni are returning to their roots to keep a struggling program alive at Holmes High School.

A committee at the Covington school was considering whether or not to continue their International Baccalaureate program. IB offers college credits for high school students.

Instead of voting to get rid of the program, the principal gave that group of alumni the chance to save it Tuesday.

School officials say they were seeing fewer and fewer students enroll in the program with more competing college credit opportunities like AP courses available to students.

"I always have to look at the greater good I have to think about what's best for our students and our school overall," principal Dennis Maines explained. "Over the past few years the IB program has had some declining numbers  and that's brought some concern to us from a resource perspective, a human resources perspective."

In addition to alumni, parents of alumni spoke at the meeting and others wrote in letters from around the country.

"The most important thing about being in this country is you can come from nothing and when given the right opportunities you can make something of yourself," Kayla Kinker said, addressing the committee.

Kinker, a 2007 Holmes graduate says she was living in a homeless shelter her senior year of high school.

"One child in Covington with nothing else going for them can turn their entire life around," she said.

Fast forward and she is now headed to medical school and she credits the IB program for saving her life.

"I came to Holmes thinking I had no future and someone told me I did," she said.

One by one, other Holmes alumni came forward and shared their own stories of how the program impacted their lives.

"Even though I had a lot of things that demographically said I should never be able to leave the ghetto, I should never be able to graduate from college, the IB program taught me that I could," one alumnus shared.

"I'm asking you, do not give up on these children because people did not give up on me," another woman urged.

Speakers argued the IB program's impact spans well beyond just the students that are enrolled. The program was called "the one great, bright, shinning light for Covington Independent schools" and speakers warned eliminating the program would send the wrong message to students and the community. They argued great programs bring families and keep families in the area.

In addition to raising concerns, the speakers also raised their hands to help in the effort. They offered to mentor, market, and help find ways to fund the program.

"This is the first time in all of those years I've ever seen the community come out like this to support their students," alumnus and former Holmes teacher Carrie Cox shared. "That is a huge turning point in Covington Independent Public Schools in getting us back on track."

Cox's fight to keep the program is an extension of her mother's who was battling cancer while filling out the paperwork to get the IB program started at Holmes High School.

"She weighed 90 pounds and they brought her desk from the school board to our home so that she could try to complete this paperwork and she did because she knew that was my only chance out," Cox shared.

"This was quite a showing of passion," school principal Dennis Maines said.

In the end, Maines decided to give the alumni a chance to bring the program back to its full potential.

"Holmes really needs this support," he told FOX19. "We have some really tough decisions that we have to make and if I can get the folks from the outside to come in and support us, work with our students and help us financially with some things it's going to be a great benefit to us."

"If you really care about your children's education or if you care about the people who are going to go to college and come back to your community or not come back depending on how strong the school systems are then you should really take action," Kinker urged other parents and community members.

The group will now have to work with school officials to finalize a funding plan and support plan to sustain the future of the program.

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