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Students’ future main topic at Mayor Breakfast

The future of Atmore’s youth was the main topic of discussion at a Breakfast with the Mayor event Tuesday morning at Escambia County Middle School.

Representatives from the county school board, Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, business leaders and area school system personnel were present for the breakfast.

As a sign that things are going in the right direction, Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said the graduation rate at Escambia County High School has gone from 67 percent to 83 percent.

“That’s got people talking about Atmore — the good side,” Staff said.

When Staff was asked about the graduation rate and how the statistics were figured, the Mayor said it all has to do with the Truancy Diversion Program at the school.

“We’ve pushed for the program, and it has helped increase attendance,” he said. “That was a driving force.”

The diversion program allows students with 10 or more unexcused absences to be forgiven for not attending school. The absences remain on students’ records, but they’ll be able to advance to the next grade level.

Jonathan Barnes, with ECHS’s office of attendance and parent organizer, said the program is a six-week long course. Students meet Thursday nights at the high school.

In addition, Barnes said the Star Academy at ECHS allows students to take accelerated computer courses and if successful, the students advance to the next grade level.

Staff was asked if there’s been an economic study done on the city of Atmore.

He said there hasn’t been one performed, but revenue is up.

“The stores are coming,” he said.

Staff said Farmers Home Furniture is about to open a store in Atmore.

Much of the breakfast was spent talking about the youth of the city, including the Atmore Chamber Ambassadors and the Youth Leadership Atmore program.

Chamber Executive Director Sheryl Vickery said both youth programs are good indicators of where young people are headed, adding that everything starts at the middle school level.