Autauga Co. school makes a difference through second chances - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Autauga Co. school makes a difference through second chances

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PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) -

It's another day at the Autauga County Alternative School in Prattville, another day for students to stretch, clap and get the blood running with a little jog to face the morning in the 'Second Chance' program.

Educators say they focus on rehabilitation, not punishment.

This is one reason why 16-year old Benjamin Sumner has bought into the program because he doesn't feel demoralized. Sumner is close to completing a 60-day stay.

"I actually want to stay. I don't want to go back to my regular school," said Sumner.

Anthony Brock is the principal of the Alternative School.

"Most of these kids are here just like I could have been here making minor mistakes along the way," said Brock.

Mistakes like being defiant to fighting, sent away from their regular public school to spend some time getting their head on straight, and learning some valuable lessons in life.

Among them?

"You have to listen to people and you can't just do what you want to do," said Sumner.

Stephanie Fox says in the beginning it felt like she was coming to 'prison.' It is not, of course but being sent here has been a game-changer.

"It's changed my life. I really like the teachers," Fox said.

The teachers in the Second Chance program are certified teachers who focus on academics but there's more; there is a sense of discipline at the school. There's no bell to signal a class change, and during the change students walk around an orange cone at the end of the hall. This is all part of the focus, changing attitudes and planting the realization it's not about them, a crucial point driven home through a garden out back.

"This garden teaches them to work together," said one teacher.

Brock admitted sometimes they don't reach every student because some just aren't ready to change.

"This feels great because it feels like a ministry," said Brock.

Sumner and Fox are about to wrap up their time in the Second Chance curriculum and go back to their respective public schools.

For them the change for the better came one step at a time in a program they initially despised but came to love and respect.

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