SPECIAL REPORT: Local program builds a different path for success

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LINCOLN, Neb. - There are a number of different ways to succeed, and in turn, not every school follows the same educational blueprint.

An example is the Bryan Community Focus Program, an additional public school option in Lincoln for high school students. The mission: to help students who need more one-on-one time receive their diplomas.

On the surface, Bryan Community School looks like a typical high school.

It features a library, computers, and prom posters on the walls, but the Bryan Community Focus Program is unique.

"I am really grateful for this program," Adora Magorin, a senior, said.

Magorin is one of only 150 students at Bryan Community. She used to attend Lincoln Northstar, but missed an entire semester after having her son, Aiden.

She said the program helped her get back on track, and on a path to graduate on time.

"Being here really helps because the teachers can sit down with you, try to catch you up, and get you where you need to be, and I think that's really important," Magorin said.

One of the biggest differences between Bryan Community and other LPS schools is class size.

McKenzie Risdale, one of Magorin’s teachers, said the smaller classes are crucial to the learning experience.

"Right now, my biggest class size is 12 students, so I can give them the one-on-one attention, versus when I worked at my previous school and had around 30-32 students. I couldn't have that one-on-one," Tisdale said.

Walking through the halls of Bryan, it's hard not to notice the school symbol, a Phoenix.

This mythological creature rises from the ashes to a higher plane of success. The coordinator of the school, Denise Craig, said the symbol reminds students this is their time to rise up from their past, and achieve their own success.

"I know some kids who have come over, and I see a big difference in them, and that's really cool to see," Craig said. "They have found their niche, and they just get in there and are just able to focus on school here."

An argument against this type of facility is it is only helping a limited numbers of students, but is being funded by the taxpayer.

However, Craig said the school is about helping students become productive members of the Lincoln community, when they otherwise might not be.

"Our goal is to help all kids. In Lincoln Public Schools we want all kids to graduate, and for those 150 kids who might not graduate from their home school, we are getting them an education, we are getting them a diploma, we are getting them life and job skills," Craig said.

In addition to wrestling with their past, Craig said students also have to fight the stereotype that Bryan Community is a school for troubled kids.

These aren't bad people, she added, they just need something different.

"Students come here for all different reasons. Some people have a lot of anxiety about a big school and just want a smaller setting, or some students have been through trauma and just want a smaller setting, and students come through here and accomplish a lot," Craig said.

For example, students like Magorin are finding success.

After taking nursing assistant classes at night, Magorin plans to graduate in May, and has big plans for her, and her family's future.

"I'm going to find a nursing assistant job part time while I start college in the summer to become a surgical tech," Magorin said.