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Actor Attacking High School Drop Out Rate

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- There was a buzz at the Boys and Girls Club in Southeast. "I think it was pretty inspirational."

The kids saw Denzel Washington at the National Press Club Wednesday, adding his star power to the Boys and Girls Club of America's new campaign attacking the high school drop out rate. Only 69% of American teenagers finish high school compared to the club's 90% graduation rate.

"We need more programs like The Boys and Girls Club when our children are out of school," said Washington, "we need every American to do his or her part."

The actor, who has been the national spokesman for 18 years, said the club shaped him as a child. "He said young man with the smarts you have you can do anything you want to do and it was maybe a small thing to say but I never forgot it. I'm 55 years old and I never forgot it." Another famous alum threw her support behind the cause.

Pop singer Ashanti Douglas told us, "The boys and girls club was that place to tell you you're not stuck here you don't have to do this you don't have limits and boundaries."

Robert Balfanz is a researcher from Johns Hopkins University and said, "6th graders that have poor attendance that get in trouble that are failing math and english only have a 1 in 5 chance in graduating."

The club in SE serves 125 children and 25 of them are high schoolers. The goal is to get each and every one of them to graduation day. Tonnie Wilson is 15 years old and said, "The Boys and Girls Club has taught me to become a better person." 15 year old Tylyn Wheeler added, "my goals are to a scholarship get out of high school and go to college."

And they will with some help from their role models in Hollywood and here at home.

Written by Delia Gonçalves
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com


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