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"Not making money and making wrong choices." But the car helped Landgrave make it to school and earn a diploma.

Now, the 22-year-old is in the Army, stationed in Texas.

And he is working with business leaders to start another adult high school campus downtown, one that's on a bus line.

Smith acknowledged the Hamilton County Department of Education might not have additional resources to fund another adult high school, so he's looking for outside help, arguing the community can make no better investment than in this school.

Kuehn hasn't had to hire a teacher in three years.

He said everyone is focused on supporting the students and ensuring they graduate.

Walking the halls, the school is calm, students quietly chat near the vending machines and everyone knows each other's names.

The school's teachers are invested in the work.

*** Smith, who was recently named to the Hamilton County Board of Education, worries about the kids who don't have a way to get to the adult high school.

Many dropouts realize a few months — or years — later that they made a mistake, he said, but they don't have a way to correct it.

Last year, Ivey said, he was kicked out of Red Bank High School because he kept skipping class and misbehaving — people told him he'd never graduate. "And better grades." Ivey said he needed a second chance, and now he's motivated to earn a high school diploma so he can enroll in the TCAT welding program at Chattanooga State Community College.

At Red Bank, he said, it was easy for him to slip through the cracks.

"It's harder for other kids to get here," Kuehn said.

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