A Military Style Program is Helping Dropouts Get Their GEDBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 28 Apr 2009 10:06am |
Mississippi has one of the highest school dropout rates in the country. Each year more than 14 thousand students quit school before receiving their high school diploma. In Part three of our dropout awareness series MPB's Lawayne Childrey takes us to the Mississippi Youth Challenge Academy ----a military style program where students who have already dropped out get a second chance to graduate.
It's 85 degrees on this day at camp Shelby in Hattiesburg. And the cadets of Charlie Platoon are dressed in tee shirts, blue shorts and black shoes. As they march to the cadence of their leader, every step, every turn, every song is in perfect harmony. But these are not army soldiers. They are high school dropouts. Among them are 17 year old Colby Bryant of Purvis and 18 year old Jeremy Paige of Jackson, both share similar stories to dropouts all over the state.
With the help of social workers these cadets found new hope in the National Guard Mississippi Youth Challenge at Camp Shelby. The program is designed to teach Mississippi dropouts between the ages of 16 and 19, all the basic skills needed to get their GED or high school equivalency Diploma. Colonel William Crowson, founded the program 3 years ago.
Even though the program is housed on the army training base at camp Shelby, Colonel Crowson, insists it's not a boot camp--- because students are not ordered by a judge to take the program. However, for 22 weeks, youth challenge students live in barracks, get up around 5:30 every morning, do military style drills, and study core subjects like math and English, in hopes getting their GED.
For17 year old Acasia Brown of Lee County ---THE hard work and determination is already paying off.
Brown hopes to eventually become a professional gospel singer. Her favorite SONG is His eye is on the sparrow. SHE says it reminds her to keep trusting in God.
While things are turning around for Acasia Brown, That’s not the case for many Mississippi children.. Education officials say at least a bus load of students across the state drop out every day. Cadet Colby Brown is helping to change those statistics.
And there are many success stories. Fighting back tears, Youth challenge Founder, Colonel William Crowson recalls when one cadet returned with his new family to personally thank him.
Nearly 1 in 4 Mississippi students will dropout out of school this year.
But, in just a few weeks the more than 230 cadets in this youth challenge program will graduate with their GED. ----Steps that could lead to a better way of life . For MPB News, I'm Lawayne Childrey.
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