The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation’s Choice Bus is half classroom and half prison cell. It is used to illustrate what could happen if students choose to stay in school or if they drop out. It stopped by the two Cobb middle schools this week.
About 400 students at East Cobb Middle were the first to check it out Tuesday.
“For those students who are really borderline and marginalized academically, I felt like it made a real impact,” said Andrew Trowers, an East Cobb language arts teacher.
He said students had an opportunity to learn about statewide and national dropout rates and the significance of their choices on the classroom side of the bus and on the prison cell side. They got a real-life look at what being imprisoned might be like.
One student told Trowers it made things “very real” for him.
“When he actually saw the recreated prison cell with materials from an Alabama prison, dummies that looked like actual prisoners and the realization that you’re going to have to brush your teeth in the same place where you defecate with no privacy, it seemed to have a pretty good shock value without going overboard,” he said.
Floyd Assistant Principal Nichole Stennis said it was important for her students to be aware of their choices because they need to know the relationship that a good education has to careers and earning potential.
“They should know that a lack of education is linked to making bad choices that could contribute to the dropout rate,” she said. “We want to be proactive in helping out students understand the importance of education and how not to become a statistic.”
Stennis said they invited the Choice Bus, which is sponsored by State Farm, to Floyd, and it’s the first time they have brought it to their school.
“We are focused on making our students ‘college and career ready’ and feel this is one experience of many that will promote critical thinking about their education,” she said.
With permission from parents at both schools, students in sixth through eighth grades visited the bus in intervals to check out the 25-minute presentation.
The bus travels all over the country, and since 2008 has been visited by 2 million students in 19 states.