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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Grad takes alternative route to get her diploma

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Kayla Pratt
SIKESTON -- It's no secret Kayla Pratt's senior year got off to a slow start. After failing world history her sophomore year then Algebra II and keyboarding her junior year, Pratt was already 2.5 credits short by the time her senior year rolled around last September.

"I didn't really even want to go to school," Pratt recalled. "But then everyone was talking about New Horizons."

New Horizons School is an alternative school in the Sikeston R-6 School District.

Right before school started last fall, Pratt moved out of her mom's house and attended school at New Horizons for a month then quit. When school resumed in January, following the Christmas break, Pratt thought she'd give New Horizons another try. She went one day and didn't return because she had a job working 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

By April Pratt realized she wanted to give school yet another attempt after a co-worker prompted her to return.

"I wanted to come back to school and they told me I could go next year. I didn't want to do that," Pratt said. "But then the counselor said I could do it, and they let me come back to school," Pratt said.

Going back to school meant changing her work schedule around and Pratt began working nights while going to school a couple of hours during the day. "I made it where work had to work around my school schedule," Pratt said. And within about a month and through computer courses at the school, Pratt earned the credits she needed to graduate high school.

"Everyone thinks this school is just for bad kids, but it's not. At this school, I feel like people care about me," Pratt said.

And it's the caring of others that made Pratt continue attending New Horizons, she said.

"I feel like everyone there cares about you and they really know you on a personal level," Pratt said.

Pratt said at New Horizons she saw a lot of her former classmates and she was surprised at their attitude adjustments when it came to learning. "One thing I've noticed is a lot of them didn't pay attention in class in high school, and now they're totally different people. They want to learn and want to get done and they try hard for it," Pratt said.

Similarities and differences exist between both the regular high school on Pine Street and the alternative school on Moore Street, Pratt said. "At the regular high school there's a lot of kids there, and here you have a normal classroom like that, but not as many students -- and there's not as much drama going on here," Pratt said.

The smaller class environment makes for more one-on-one time with teachers, Pratt said.

"I need someone to individually talk to me, and they can do that at New Horizons," Pratt said.

If New Horizons would not exist, Pratt said she knows she wouldn't have gone back to the regular high school.

"She's not lazy," said New Horizons Principal Lynn Crader. "She would go out and work and go to school. She finally decided to be committed and get it done. I'm proud of her."

On Tuesday Pratt will join the rest of the 270 seniors of Sikeston High School at graduation -- a time which she admits scares her. But her family will be there cheering her on, she said.

Pratt even convinced her 21-year-old co-worker, who quit high school in the 10th grade, to go back to school. Now they'll graduate together.

Through it all, Pratt has maintained her job and is even considering enrolling in a junior college -- with the help of her school counselor, of course. She said she would like to be an art teacher or a kindergarten teacher some day. "I feel proud of myself," said Pratt, who recently turned 18. "I'm proud I did it."