One-time Riverside County high school dropouts will get diplomas Monday, thanks to a program aimed at getting them back on track.
A record 170 county residents will be graduating from the "Come Back Kids'' program run by the county's Office of Education.
The number of graduates is six times greater than it was when the program began in 2008, Public Information Officer Rick Peoples said.
A graduation ceremony is slated for 6 p.m. Monday at the Grove Community Church, 19900 Grove Community Drive in Riverside.
"Come Back Kids is the place to get off the dropout track and get onto the graduation path,'' said Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young. "CBK provides a completely different learning environment than the one they failed in. It gives them a second chance to improve their learning skills and make up credits.''
According to Peoples, students admitted to the program include teenagers who dropped out of school to support their families, students with substance abuse issues, self-esteem cases, former gang members, as well as those who simply lacked the dedication to complete their high school education.
The dropouts are schooled at one of the county's Regional Learning Centers or Youth Opportunity Centers, where schedules are flexible.
Jaime Quinonez, 19, of Murrieta benefited from the program. He failed to graduate with his class because of poor grades and later enrolled in the county program.
"There was still that part of me that wanted to be someone,'' Quinonez said. "It sparked something. It was hard work, but I got A's and B's. There was no slacking off. It ended with me graduating.'' --City News Service