PACE Center for Girls

Back on Track with School

Not many 16-year-olds can say that they’ve had a life-changing experience. That’s just what happened for one local student, though, after she started receiving regular services through Marion PACE Center for Girls.

Homeschooled at the time, Hunter was having difficulties with schoolwork and handling certain challenges. She had a plan to drop out once she turned 16 – an act that statistically leads to a lifetime of fewer opportunities and more hardships. She went to PACE for a few days and was placed in public school. Severe panic attacks led her to miss a lot of class, however, so when the school year ended, she was still in ninth grade instead of tenth due to a lack of credits. Hunter began going to PACE regularly to catch back up with her classes and receive other services that would help her handle the difficulties she was facing. 

“When I first came I would have panic attacks and feel like I couldn’t breathe, so my counselor would take me outside so I could have fresh air and just kind of talk me through it,” she said. “I definitely gained coping skills through that.”

Hunter received tutoring for other classes and also took electives. One of those electives, a class called Spirited Girls™ (a gender-responsive life management skills class), helped her understand topics like pregnancy, drug and STD risks and the alcohol addiction of a close family member. The students also receive information on everyday activities that are important, like banking.

“We had Center State Bank come in and teach us about finances and savings; that’s something I never would have known,” she said.

Hunter has grown by leaps and bounds from when she first arrived at the center through its classes, counseling and tutoring. When she initially visited, she had trouble staying motivated and felt like she couldn’t do the work, especially in math. Now – Hunter feels more knowledgeable, and her grades have definitely caught up. The future looks brighter.

“I came in not even being done with ninth grade, and now I am a junior in all senior classes,” she said.

A United Way-funded agency, PACE seeks to change the life trajectory of at-risk middle and high school girls through its broad range of services, including academic education, Spirited Girls™, career preparation, counseling and transition services. The organization is recognized as a national model to reduce recidivism and improve school success, employment and self-sufficiency for girls. 

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