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In the 2011-12 academic year, 13,768 N.C. students dropped out of school.
More than 8,000 of those were under the age of 17.
Two local schools have taken initiative in hopes of reducing those numbers. Newton-Conover City Schools and Hickory Public Schools have adopted legislation that will raise the drop-out age from 16 to 18, starting in the fall of 2014.
To read more of this story, pick up the weekend edition (Saturday through Monday) of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.