Academy of Urban Learning gives at-risk students tools to succeed in face of challenges

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DENVER -- At first glance, the sights and sounds of this high school are pretty typical.  Social studies, math, science, history ... all typical high school curriculum.

And senior student Azya Darden is a typical high school student, except for one thing.

“I am pregnant,” she said.

Just being a kid growing up is tough enough.  But when life throws a curveball, sometimes that kid needs a coach.

That’s where Academy of Urban Learning comes in.

“Our mission is to assist out young adults in earning a high school diploma and going out into the world and being productive members of our society,” principal Michelle Kennard said.

Ninety-seven percent of the 125 students at AUL are considered by the state of Colorado to be high risk. Homelessness, transient lifestyle, parents in jail, or in Darden's case, teenage pregnancy.

“I was actually pretty scared because I had a lot of plans,” Darden said.

“I can’t imagine how hard it was for her to tell her parents that she was expecting,” Kennard said.

But she did, and now Darden will soon be graduating AUL with a high school diploma and a new skill set.

“I’m actually learning about parenting, yeah," she said.

Added Kennard: “I want to somehow, somehow I want them to break that cycle of poverty.”