Jonathan Dean was attending Long Beach Middle School, until he got into trouble. Jonathan said "I got into fights mostly".
His classmate, Ricky Jacob, was expelled from school. Ricky said "I made some mistakes. I was doing some stuff I wasn't supposed to be doing in school".
Before, the district paid more than $100,000 a year to send problem students, like Ricky and Jonathan, to the Alternative School in Gulfport. This year, the Long Beach district started its own program.
Principal Savannah Hartzog said "The district found it would be more beneficial to keep our students here in the community to make the needed corrections in behavior, rather than send them to another town. Also, spending a very large amount of money to another school district, when that money could be better spent keeping our own children here in our community, and addressing the needs that they have".
Students who end up at the Alternative School must spend a minimum of nine weeks there. They learn core courses, like Math, English, Science and Social Studies. Every day, the students have to earn points for good behavior and academic improvement, and then be evaluated, before they're allowed to go back to their regular schools.
Hartzog said "We can move in and provide very intensive attention and counseling, to possibly change the path the children have taken and hopefully turn them in a more productive direction".
Many students say the program is making a difference. Jonathan Dean said "Now, when someone wants to fight me, I just try to find my way out of it instead of fighting. Also, my grades went up real high".
Ricky Jacob said "If the alternative school wasn't available, I'd probably would not have learned anything. I'd probably would have gotten in more trouble".
The Long School Alternative School is located on East Old Pass Road, right across from the high school. Currently, 17-students from the Middle School and High School are enrolled in the program.
By: Trang Pham-Bui
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