Choice Bus designed to teach stay-in-school lesson
By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A hands-on lesson about the benefits of staying in school and the consequences of dropping out was driven home to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at three Morgan County schools on Monday.
Upper level students at Sparkman, Union Hill and Lacey’s Spring schools were introduced to The Choice Bus, an over-the-road motor vehicle sponsored by The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation.
The rear one-half of the bus is painted in white and black and the front one-half remains as a regular school bus. The following message is presented in large letters on each side of the bus: “The Choice Is Yours: Inside Out—A multiple Choice Experience for the Future of America—Think Before You Drop Out.”
On the inside, the front of the vehicle contains doublewide seats, a black stage curtain and a wide-screen television. Behind the curtain are a “real” jail cell complete with steel security bars, a cot and a commode.
Lynn Smelley, program manager, introduced the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation and shared some facts about the downside of dropping out of school.
In a four-minute video, several prison inmates testified that they made a stupid mistake when they dropped out of school and are having to suffer the consequences.
Smelley then opened a curtain and let the students enter the jail cell for a brief look. As they exited the bus, each student was given a pledge card and asked to sign it as a promise to not drop out of school and leave it with their teacher or guidance counselor.
State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, accompanied The Choice Bus on its stop at Sparkman School. Also present was Phil Christian, executive director.
Orr provided funding for Then Choice Bus visits, using money from a fund he set up after refusing to accept a pay increase approved by the legislature the first year he assumed office.