Mt. Vernon Register-News

May 17, 2010

Our View: Helping 'at-risk' youth enter society

MT. VERNON — Thirteen graduates proudly wore their caps, gowns and tassels Thursday at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. The graduates were honored for achievement unknown by many youth. In addition to obtaining their GEDs, the students took part in a six-month program comprised of vocational training in construction and community service.

The graduation ceremony was for YouthBuild of Jefferson and Marion Counties, a program of the United Methodist Children’s Home. To graduate, participants of the program had to maintain at least 85 percent attendance,  show satisfactory progress in all areas, be actively pursuing employment or education and they had to be drug-free.

According to Tracy Boss, Rend Lake College GED instructor, the “at-risk” students have worked hard to find their way in society.

“These kids don’t have anything handed to them,” she said. “I’m additionally interested in them, because these guys endured so much. You choose to be here. They told me, ‘If I’d known how hard it would be, I would have stayed in school.’ It’s not the mistake you make, it’s what you do after the mistake. That’s why these guys are here.”

We applaud those who work to salvage youth who make mistakes, and gear them toward being productive members of society.