Colin Powell, foot soldiers battle America’s dropout ‘catastrophe’

Was2048984Willie Thornton is on a rescue mission. One morning in March he set out to save Desmond Dunklin, a 19-year-old who should have graduated last year from Greenville High School in Greenville, Alabama.

Thornton, 48, the school’s dropout prevention coordinator, and Lt. Malcolm Owens, the school’s police officer, drive the five minutes to Dunklin’s house.

“I need for you to show up,” Thornton tells a sleepy Dunklin, who clearly has just been awakened by the men’s repeated knocking on his door.

Dunklin hadn’t been attending school regularly, despite six or seven home visits from Thornton.

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Pictured: Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell reads the Gettysburg Address of 16th US president Abraham Lincoln during the official re-opening of the National Museum of American History in Washington,DC on November 21, 2008. The museum re-opened after a two-year architectural transformation of its center core. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)