"I just really didn't want to go to school with everything that I was going through, so I just stopped going," Luckes said.
Sharmine Chapman has a similar story.
"I had a child at a young age," Chapman, a former East High School student, said. "I dropped out and I just started going down the wrong path from there."
They both turned their lives in a bad direction until they realized, they were going nowhere.
"The only job I could get was in the food service industry," Luckes said.
Everything changed when they both found the YouthBuild program run by the Mile High Youth Corps.
"YouthBuild is all about giving young people an opportunity to make a change in their life," Kelly Causey, executive director of the Mile High Youth Corps, said.
They were given a second chance.
"Everybody deserves a second chance," Chapman said. "Everybody makes mistakes."
In YouthBuild, students work on obtaining a General Equivalency Diploma while working in real world environments like construction sites. The goal is to teach them useful trades while learning the value of hard work.
"Being here has given us that second chance," Luckes said.
Not too long ago, Luckes, Chapman and 26 other classmates never envisioned going through graduation.
"To have a graduation after [this many] years," Chapman said. "I dropped out in '08. It's now 2011, but I am so proud to be walking across that stage today."
The last thing Luckes would expect to deliver is the graduation speech.
"The thing about YouthBuild is not that it's a great program," Luckes said. "It's a great program that has a lot of great people."
YouthBuild has partnered with the Denver Housing Authority to have the students work on real projects. The homes they build are meant for families who are also seeking a second chance.
"I think second chances are important," Luckes said. "Sometimes you can fall, make some mistakes."
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