A handful of students from Denver’s East High School recently spent a warm January lunch period huddled against a brick home two blocks from the school, passing a joint and discussing the merits of medical marijuana.
Roger Alvarez, 22, was one of the 52 percent of students who didn't make it through his senior year at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles.
He dropped out in 2007, but by the time he was in ninth grade, Alvarez says he already knew he wasn't going to graduate.
"There's a certain amount of knowledge you have to have when you enter in a specific grade, and I didn't have it," Alvarez says. "Every class I used to go in, I was like, 'Do I know this? I don't know this. Nah, I'm not going to pass this class.' "
Student enrollment across Colorado continues to grow according to new numbers released by the Colorado Department of Education. Enrollment at the state’s schools increased by 1.3 percent this year—with some of the largest gains in Denver Public Schools, the state’s charter schools and full-time online learning programs.