Taking the High Road

HIGH SCHOOL was a lost cause for Priscilla Rivera, a child of the downcast mill city of Holyoke, Mass. “I went to school with the attitude, ‘Oh, this is hard, and I’m not going to do it,’ ” Ms. Rivera said recently. “After a while, the teachers gave up on me. They were like, ‘If you don’t want to do your work, just put your head down.’ ”
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