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Peacing Together: Youth violence can cause loss of opportunity

Sometimes the cost of youth violence is a loss of education and chance at making a decent living

MACON, Ga. — The cost of youth violence doesn't always equate to injury or death.

Sometimes, choosing violence results in the loss of an education and a chance of making a decent living in adulthood.

Through our partnership with Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism, Amyre Makupson shows how one school is trying to make sure kids stay in the classroom and off the street.

BACKGROUND: Peacing Together: Seeking solutions to youth violence in Central Georgia

A person without a high school diploma is expected to make $26,000 in a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s at least $10,000 less than someone with a high school diploma and nearly $40,000 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree.

"You just going to be either on the streets or you're going to be in jail somewhere if you don't do well in school,” said Northeast senior Kelvin Williams.

Williams wasn’t always so focused on school.

"I wasn't on the right path at first with grades, I really didn't care, but me growing up I just realized, I got to get out. I got to provide for my family so I changed myself so I can do that,” said Williams. “I just didn't want to be on the streets. Every day you drive around Macon you see people on the streets. I didn't want to end up like that.”

Jarred Moore, an academic coach at Northeast High School in Macon, didn’t want that life for Kelvin either.

"One of our goals is to make sure that when students leave they're either enlisted, enrolled or employed. So, we want to really ensure that we're giving our students the skills that they need to be successful when they leave Northeast High School,” said Moore.

The two paired up through an in-school mentorship program called Raider Advisement.

"Children rise to the expectations of the adults in the building and they know if you expect great things of them and if they know that you care, they are going to perform and they are going to rise,” said Moore.

"Mr. Moore, he mentors us and he pushes us on to do better with our work. So like, say if I was down a grade, he's going to keep pushing me to keep that grade up,” said Williams.

Now -- as an upperclassman -- Kelvin can see a bit of himself in younger students.

“I was really just like them one day, so if they see me changing, they think to themselves I can change just like him one day,” he said.

Through the same program that helped get Kelvin on the right track, he is now mentoring other students like Antonio Fitzpatrick, and helping the next generation of Raiders get better.

"I can say when I got involved I became a better student because some teachers have told me that I became a better student, and some people have told me I became into a better person because I wasn't as good as I am now,” said Fitzpatrick.

Every student at Northeast has either a peer or teacher mentor working with them throughout the school year.

Outside of Raider Advisement, the school also has a restorative justice and discipline team, as well as a positive behavior intervention and support team. They’re all focused on helping students excel in school and stay on the right track.

Over the last six years, Northeast High raised its graduation rate by more than 30 points from 47.2 to 80.8.


Peacing Together: Macon youth on what causes violence, what they've experienced

Peacing Together: Macon mother urges youth to think twice before choosing violence

We can't do this on our own, we need your help too. We'd like to invite you to take a brief survey on your thoughts on youth violence in your community.

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