JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- Duval County is making strides when it comes to graduation rates. Currently, the district is now at its highest rate in history.

However, with graduation season in full swing comes the reminder that hundreds of students are not walking away with a diploma. In 2014, more than one quarter of students are not turning their tassels. However, the program, Communities in Schools, is hoping to change that and continue to increase the graduation rate. The program provides clothes, food and tutoring for 6,600 Duval county students.

Angie Powers was one of those students.

"I was a troubled child and caused a lot of problems," said Powell. "I was bad but Miss Ingrid turned it all around for me."

Ingrid Bowman-Thomas is a director at Communities in Schools. Her job hits home because she was once a homeless student. She says she wishes she had a program like this, to help her when she needed it most.

Bowman-Thomas said, "I fight for these students so hard because I know what they are going through."

Now, she is hoping to turn the graduation rate to zero percent.

"Hopefully one day we will see that last drop-out," said Bowman-Thomas. "In my lifetime,I want to see that last dropout."

The county's graduation rate is at its highest in history, at 71.2 percent. That is an increase of about five percentage points in the last year. However, in the last five years, the percentage is up 11 points.

"Every student deserves to walk across that stage and hear people cheering for them," said Bowman-Thomas, "They deserve to hear their name."

As for Powell, she is heading to Edward Waters College in the fall. She has a scholarship to study education and help others, the way Ingrid, helped her.

Changes at all the Intervene high schools were as follows:

Nathan B. Forrest HS: + 18.7%

Edward H. White HS: + 10.9%

A. Philip Randolph Academies: + 5.9%

William M. Raines HS: + 1.9%

Andrew Jackson HS: + 1.0%

Read or Share this story: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/local/2014/06/05/duval-county-graduation-rate/10035829/