New Academy Teaches Teens About Clean Living - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/31/03

New Academy Teaches Teens About Clean Living

A teen who got busted for driving with a suspended license sat in row one. A shoplifter was in row two. Yet when Gulfport judge Tom Payne looked out toward the audience, he saw future community leaders, not 16-21 year old criminals.

"We have a group of young men and women in the Citizenship and Justice Academy who have tremendous potential, " the judge said.

The academy he helped set up harnessed that potential. It was established by Gulfport and USM to work with teens who were heading down the wrong path.

Ernest Cole was one of those teens. He committed a misdemeanor simple assault and was on probation.

"Before I had no self confidence," Cole said. "I didn't know what my dreams were. I didn't know what my goals are. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life."

That's not the case anymore. Cole worked hard to earn a hug from his mother, an academy certificate, and a new lease on life.

"I've got self confidence, self motivation. I've got people helping me, keeping my standards and my confidence high," he said.

Cole's mom took a picture of her more confident son, so she could cherish the day he rediscovered life. Tears flowed down her face when she used to words joy and happiness top describe what this day meant to her family.

The day was the Citizenship and Justice Academy's first graduation. Twenty one teens walked across the stage at USM Gulf Coast to receive an academy certificate. Dr. Shelby Thames was on hand to congratulate each graduate.

To get to this point, the cadets had to work toward their GED diploma. They also had to learn skills to either get a job or go to college. And they had to participate in 40 hours of community service.

Lafonte Washington was part of the graduating class.

"They said they was trying to help me out," he said. "So I came here to get out of trouble."

Astrin Tillman actually completed her community service commitment one week after giving birth to a baby boy.

"I want to set a good example for my child," she said.

On the streets back home, these teens learned about crime. And that landed them in trouble with the law. The academy taught them about life's rewards. Graduation day symbolized their return to productivity.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Labor pays for the academy. Right now, Gulfport is the only city sending teens who committed misdemeanor crimes to the program. But later this year, it may be expanded so other cities can take advantage of it.

by Brad Kessie

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Biloxi physician fights for right to have light for his sign

    Biloxi physician fights for right to have light for his sign

    Sunday, April 22 2018 11:19 PM EDT2018-04-23 03:19:41 GMT
    Dr. Azad Kabir wants to replace this sign with an illuminated LED Reader Board sign. He's appealing the rejection of the Architectural and Historical Review Commission decision to the Biloxi City Council. (Photo Source: WLOX)Dr. Azad Kabir wants to replace this sign with an illuminated LED Reader Board sign. He's appealing the rejection of the Architectural and Historical Review Commission decision to the Biloxi City Council. (Photo Source: WLOX)
    Dr. Azad Kabir wants to replace this sign with an illuminated LED Reader Board sign. He's appealing the rejection of the Architectural and Historical Review Commission decision to the Biloxi City Council.Dr. Azad Kabir wants to replace this sign with an illuminated LED Reader Board sign. He's appealing the rejection of the Architectural and Historical Review Commission decision to the Biloxi City Council.

    Dr. Azad Kabir is ready to fight for his right to promote his business with an illuminated LED sign within Biloxi's historic district. 

    More >>

    Dr. Azad Kabir is ready to fight for his right to promote his business with an illuminated LED sign within Biloxi's historic district. 

    More >>
  • Miley struggles as Shuckers fall to Biscuits 13-3

    Miley struggles as Shuckers fall to Biscuits 13-3

    Sunday, April 22 2018 11:17 PM EDT2018-04-23 03:17:17 GMT
    Shuckers pitcher Wade Miley takes the mound at MGM Park (WLOX Sports)Shuckers pitcher Wade Miley takes the mound at MGM Park (WLOX Sports)
    Shuckers pitcher Wade Miley takes the mound at MGM Park (WLOX Sports)Shuckers pitcher Wade Miley takes the mound at MGM Park (WLOX Sports)

    On a windy day at the ballpark, the Montgomery Biscuits (6-11) smacked four home runs, three against LHP Wade Miley (L, 0-1), as they defeated the Biloxi Shuckers (10-7) 13-3 on Sunday afternoon.

    More >>

    On a windy day at the ballpark, the Montgomery Biscuits (6-11) smacked four home runs, three against LHP Wade Miley (L, 0-1), as they defeated the Biloxi Shuckers (10-7) 13-3 on Sunday afternoon.

    More >>
  • Man held at gunpoint in viral video arrested on DUI, drug charges

    Man held at gunpoint in viral video arrested on DUI, drug charges

    Sunday, April 22 2018 11:08 PM EDT2018-04-23 03:08:06 GMT
    David Achenbach, 30, was arrested and charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, reckless driving, and disorderly conduct. (Photo Source: Jackson County Adult Detention Center)David Achenbach, 30, was arrested and charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, reckless driving, and disorderly conduct. (Photo Source: Jackson County Adult Detention Center)
    David Achenbach, 30, was arrested and charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, reckless driving, and disorderly conduct. (Photo Source: Jackson County Adult Detention Center)David Achenbach, 30, was arrested and charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, reckless driving, and disorderly conduct. (Photo Source: Jackson County Adult Detention Center)
    The man featured in a viral video involving law enforcement in Jackson County is now in police custody on multiple charges.  In the viral clip, a man can be seen standing with his hands up, faced by numerous law enforcement vehicles and officers with their guns drawn. The video has gained more than 30,000 views on Facebook.  He has been identified by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department as 30-year-old David Achenbach, who was arrested and c...More >>
    The man featured in a viral video involving law enforcement in Jackson County is now in police custody on multiple charges.  In the viral clip, a man can be seen standing with his hands up, faced by numerous law enforcement vehicles and officers with their guns drawn. The video has gained more than 30,000 views on Facebook.  He has been identified by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department as 30-year-old David Achenbach, who was arrested and c...More >>
Powered by Frankly