CASA GRANDE (3TV/CBS 5) - Over the last five years, the Casa Grande Union High School District has cut its dropout rate in half.

The district, located midway between Phoenix and Tucson, has programs in place to help more students graduate.

[WATCH: Casa Grande district cuts dropout rates in half thanks to new program]

That was the case for high school senior, Richard Williams.

"It's the best feeling in the world. You get to start life after this," he said. Williams had struggled in class until he realized he needed to make a major change to set him up for a successful future.

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"A light bulb went off in my head, and I was like, I got to turn this around," said Williams.

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On paper, many people may have given up on him or other students in the same situation. But, CGUHSD leaders had hopes and dreams for all of their students.

"There are a lot of stressors getting to school every day," said school counselor Mary Donnelly. "Outside stressors. These changes can make lifetime changes for students and families."

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Previously, the district had an off-campus location for students who needed extra attention in the classroom. Now, those students are back to their home high school to give them the same opportunities as all other students.

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"We want to be a resource," CGUHSD superintendent Steve Bebee said. "We want to reach out and see what we can do to help them, to support them and see what we can do. If anything else, when they are at school to just let them be kids."

[SPECIAL SECTION: State of Our Schools: The search for solutions]

That message has helped students like Williams.

"The sky is absolutely the limit, probably more," he said. "Who knows, but you can honestly do anything you set your mind to."

[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click/tap here for graphic of declining dropout rates]


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