KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Zane Stewart is graduating from Riverside High at the end of this school year.
But there was a time when that wasn’t in his plans.
"I finally was just like, I don't need school. I just quit coming. Just quit, dropped out and everything, just -- I was done. I sat at my house and did nothing," said Zane Stewart, a senior at Riverside High School.
Then he had an epiphany:
"I worked at McDonald's over the summer, and it was awful," he said. "I do not want to do that for the rest of my life."
So he decided to take another shot at school, admitting he probably wouldn’t have succeeded on his second try if it weren’t for his teachers.
"Without half the staff at Riverside, then I would have just came back and been like, 'I don't want to do this anymore' and just quit again," Stewart said.
But Stewart isn’t alone.
In the 2007-2008 school year, Kanawha County had 575 middle and high school dropouts. That number dropped to 361 last year.
At Riverside High alone, the number of dropouts was cut in half -- going from 90 in 2010 to 45 last year.
"I believed that the kids could really do this," Riverside High Principal Valery Harper said. "I believed that we could turn around Riverside together, and the dream has come true. It really has come true."
This is Harper’s third year at the reigns of Riverside High. She says one of the keys to keeping kids in the classroom is all about relationships.
"I think the main thing that's going on is we're talking to kids, we're developing relationships with kids and we believe in the potential that they have," Harper said.
And for Stewart, that has made all the difference.
"Good thing. It's a good thing,” he said.