COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Thousands of young adults in our area will graduate from high school this week, some of them taking a different path to walk across the stage.
Catapult Academy is a dropout recovery program for the Muscogee County School District. On Thursday, dozens from there will get their high school diplomas.
"I came a long way...I know I did," said Jonathan Lee, graduation from Catapult Academy.
It's been a longer journey than expected for Jonathan Lee, who just turned 20-years-old. He was supposed to graduate in 2015.
"Some people have told them they can't get their high school diploma, they won't make it, it can't happen and you see them actually do it," said Jimmy King, Catapult Academy Program Director.
Typing his way into a bright future. But rewind several years ago, it wasn't so bright. Jonathan attended Kendrick High until the 11th grade, then he started skipping school a lot and eventually dropped out.
"They let me back in school, then I got in trouble with the law," said Lee. "Stealing from people, stuff like that."
After spending a year in juvenile detention, Jonathan started walking a new path at Catapult Academy in Columbus and into non-traditional classrooms.
"You've made that mistake. Now, what are we going to do moving forward," said King.
That second chance to earn their cap and gown takes a big commitment. It took five months for this high school dropout to finish, but only because he doubled the normal workload while at Catapult Academy.
"Jonathan started coming for one session (Noon – 4 p.m.) then he realized I need to come the whole day 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., in order to have the success he was going to have," said King.
"You make mistakes, but God gonna give you a second chance, so I feel like if he gives me a second chance, other people will give me a second chance," Lee said.
Thanking God for his success, Jonathan admits he was hanging with the wrong crowd and needed to be focused on his schoolwork.
Overcoming the learning disorder by keeping his eyes on the prize, even turning his computer around in a corner to finish. Next for him: college and a job.
"I want to do building houses, flipping houses, contractor, real estate," said Lee.
The Catapult Academy Program Director is proud of him and dozens of others for defying their odds.
"I'm filled with joy, and saying there's another one, those are my kids, another success story," King said.
Catapult Academy in Muscogee County offers second chances at diplomas for students ages 16 to 21, with a high success rate: graduating 69 of their 86 participants last year.
News Leader 9 will live stream Catapult Academy's graduation on Thursday at 4 p.m. For the Muscogee County School District's graduation schedule click here.