Introducing the “Haul Pass” program in Oklahoma City. The public schools system and city’s public transportation system, Embark, are teaming up to make sure students at a local high school can balance academics with other aspects of their lives.
The students at Emerson Mid-High School in Oklahoma City have more than just academics on their minds. For many of them, every day turns into a balancing act between graduating high school and holding down full-time jobs, raising children or supporting families.
“I dropped out of U.S. Grant, and I left school for two years before I heard about Emerson,” Yuviana Fernandez, who is gearing up to graduation, explained.
Fernandez dropped out after having her second child. Now, she's at Emerson Mid-High School trying to get her diploma while raising an infant. The "Haul Pass" partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools and Embark makes that life balance a little easier.
“I have it, and then I use it to take her to appointments 'cause she has to get her shots and regular checkups," said Fernandez. "I go to the store sometimes, when my boyfriend can't take me."
The "Haul Pass" provides free public transportation in the city for students like Xavier Ferguson, a junior trying to graduate while holding down a full-time job.
“It really is a stress reliever, because my mom doesn't really have to come off of work to, at lunch time, to take me to work and then go back to her job,” Ferguson said.
The program is saving Ferguson money, so he does not have to choose work over school, like he did in the past.
“I don't have to be thinking of how much money do I have to take a bus tomorrow, or how much money I have now to take this bus to get to here,” Ferguson added.
The school district hopes to expand the “Haul Pass” in the future to other schools. It all stemmed after city leaders heard about the Emerson Mid-High School principal, who was raising money and buying bus passes for her students.