Quite a few graduations going on this week, but one in Daphne is extra special. About a dozen teenagers with troubled pasts, are turning their lives around. They made it official Thursday night, graduating from the "Compass II Life" program.
It's a positive spin on all the negativity young people are facing. And with all of the teen violence in our community lately, these kids are deciding, they're not going there.
"Stop what I'm doing, think about what my consequences are, think about the right decision to do, and do it," said graduate, 15-year-old Shawn Thompson.
That's the mantra a group of young men in the "Compass II Life" program have heard for weeks: stop, think, and respond. And with an official certificate, the middle and high school students from both sides of the bay have earned their stripes in the program, which focused on helping them make better decisions.
Proud parents watched as one by one, the students shared their five year plans for a brighter future. Damarion Faulker's mom can't believe the changes she's seen in her 8th grader.
"He's definitely more polite, he's able to do a lot of things on his own, pretty much being responsible is what I see the change in how this program has really helped him," said Shalynthia Gulley.
Local law enforcement and other community leaders have worked with the bunch to inspire and encourage them. For some, those lessons have been life changing.
"I learned in this program to be a better man, make better choices, I worked on my anger management, I learned how to control how I talk to people and the way I talk to them I should treat people the way I want to be treated. I have to push myself to be better because if I don't I'll just be nothing, nobody," said graduate, Jaylun Ezell.
And Shawn Thompson now wants to serve his country, and join the navy; a complete 180 from the path he says he was heading down.
"I've basically learned how to control myself because before I started the program, I was off hand, back-talking teachers, not thinking about my consequences before I do them. But now I've got myself together, I've got my grades up, I'm passing all grades, got all A's and B's and C's."
The program has helped more than one hundred teens in Mobile and Baldwin counties within the past two years, and continues to grow.