Choice Bus coming to WPHS

Staff Writer

The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority contacted State Farm Insurance to have The Choice Bus, a part of the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, to come to West Point High School North Campus Wednesday, Feb. 8, and the South Campus Thursday, Feb. 9, to do a presentation for the students.
The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation was created to help educators, community leaders and other interested groups reduce the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate through the creation of relevant and effective tools and resources. The foundation has corporate partners, State Farm, Pepsi and Verizon Wireless.
The Choice Bus is an experience-based learning tool designed to show young people the power of education, as well as the likely consequences of choosing to drop out of school. It contains a full scale replica of a prison cell which is hidden behind a curtain and flat screen television. Upon entering the bus, a four-minute movie will quiz the audience on the earning potential of a dropout versus a high-school and college graduate. The movie also features several powerful testimonials from people who regret dropping out - prison inmates. When the movie is finished, the cell is revealed demonstrating the stark reality experienced by many dropouts. Students are then invited into the prison cell to briefly experience the uncomfortable living conditions. As students exit the bus, they receive a pledge card and are asked to make a commitment to finish school and make good choices. The Choice Bus experience is approximately twenty minutes long and is designed for grades 6-10.
"The Choice Bus tries to target the middle school age kids, before they get to the age where they think they know everything," Ungenette Brantley, a member of DSTS said. "But when they come to West Point High School, it will be primarily for the ninth grade Feb. 8, and the senior class Feb. 9. We want them to understand the importance of continuing their education."
Brantley said the Choice Bus can show them the positive side of pursuing an education and also the negative consequences of dropping out of school.
"My hope is these students will see the importance of education," Brantley said. "The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is always trying to support children in reaching their academic goals. Education is the key to being successful. We want to help them understand they need a good education regardless of what sort of employment they want. The better educated you are they more opportunities life will give you."
Brantley said the Delta's got in contact with State Farm Insurance agents Jamey Ballard and Kevin Flurry to bring the Choice Bus to West Point High School.
"We are excited to have the Choice Bus coming to West Point High School," Jamey Ballard of State Farm said. "This bus travels all across the state and we've been trying for a while to have it come to our area. We are happy to give the students here the opportunity to see it."
Ballard said State Farm is a sponsor of the two - part bus. He said one part is educational and the other part is correctional.
"The kids will see a four minute presentation in the bus," Ballard said. "It will show the positive opportunities that come from staying in school and graduating. It will also show what can happen when you don't stay in school and decide to drop out. Everyone thinks they can just get their GED and there is no difference. This presentation shows them what can happen without an education."