A COMMUNITY partnership at Ropes Crossing has made teenagers rethink plans to leave school early.
Almost 40 indigenous year 9 and 10 students from Chifley College Shalvey and Cranebrook High School graduated from the Lend Lease Community Footprint program on Friday night.
Students attended weekly sessions to learn about leadership, self-confidence, public speaking, art, hip-hop and interview skills during the pilot program, which ran for two terms.
It was a partnership between Lend Lease and GWS Giants.
"It was making them think about choices on further education, staying at school and becoming good leaders," community partnership co-ordinator Jayne Berry said.
"It's all about confidence.
"The students need more one-on-one attention and work better in smaller groups.
"It has given them a sense of achievement that they've stuck with the program."
Mrs Berry is proud of the graduates.
"They've transformed into amazing young adults," she said.
"Some had wanted to leave school in year 10 but they've now decided to stay on.
"Their teachers have seen big changes at school as the students have been able to build a rapport with them in a different atmosphere."
Mrs Berry said the format of the program saw the students open up.
"They were more reserved at the start than when they graduated," she said.
"We allowed them to have a voice in the program and asked for their feedback at the end of every session.
"I've seen them work together as groups, start to build trust and start to open up."
Mrs Berry said she had hoped the program will continue next year.
She had this advice for the first graduates: "Follow your dreams."