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Student ‘Choice’

By By Lisa Tindell
Studies have shown 75 percent of all prison inmates have one thing in common - they dropped out of high school.
That message is one that Escambia County school officials are hoping to get across to current students through the use of the Choice Bus, which visited several schools in the county last week.
Choice Bus is a dual-purpose vehicle that presents a view of life through the eyes of individuals who made the wrong choice.
To make the consequences of dropping out of school more tangible, The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation decided to build a life-sized replica of a prison cell on a school bus to challenge students to make the choice to stay in school.
Barnett said the bus is just one way county officials are hoping to bring more awareness to students about staying in school.
During the presentation to middle and high school students in the county, Lynn Smelley, program manager for Choice Bus, said it is never too late to present the message to students.
The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, created by Dr. Shelley Stewart in memory of his murdered mother, is a national non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the dropout rate among high school students. The Foundation was established in the summer of 2007 and is headquartered in Birmingham. Its primary corporate partner is o2ideas, Inc., a corporate communications and brand relations firm also based in Birmingham. The mission of the Foundation is to create tools and resources to help educators, community leaders and parents effectively address the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate. The Foundation also partners with America’s Promise Alliance, the National Dropout Prevention Center and Communities In Schools.
Christian said the bus has visited several states and has exposed more than 100,000 students to the message to stay in school.
Christian said the two busses in the fleet for the Foundation have been busy over the past three years with plans to increase the fleet during the coming months.
For more information concerning Choice Bus or the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, visit www.mattiecstewart.org <http://www.mattiecstewart.org>