Darren Doyle, story and photos
Several Edmonson County Middle School students were put in jail today while others were forced to hire attorneys, some stood before the judge, and several were sent to the principal. Although it was only in simulation, the real life experiences of making poor choices hit home with several students during the annual STOP (Students Targeting Outside Pressures) Program at ECMS.
The program, hosted by the Edmonson County Youth Service Centers, is designed to randomly assign various crimes and violations to 7th graders and show them the process that takes place for each incident. Teachers and volunteers accompanied each of the "accused" students as they were taken through the process and most importantly, the consequences of their violation.
"The STOP program was originally created by Leadership Edmonson County some years ago in an attempt to help students better understand the consequences of their actions," said Jamie Carnes, Supervisor of State and Federal Programs of Edmonson County Schools. "We get community volunteers to come in and act as parents to the students while community officials and law enforcement officers serve in their capacities and help the students understand what actually happens if they get in trouble at school or in trouble with the law."
Carnes said several students had quite the reaction as they experienced simulations of consequences for certain violations.
"Students see that we're taking this seriously, and we've seen some students even get emotional. We've had some kids upset and even cry in reaction to what they've heard.
High school members of the ECHS S.A.D.D. club (Students Against Destructive Decisions) also attended, sharing their own experiences with the 7th graders and discussing how the program affected them when they were in the middle school.
The kids were presented scenarios that ranged anywhere from missing too many days of school to serious felony drug charges or bringing a weapon to school.
"Because many students are unaware of the serious consequences that they can face in these types of situations, they can get emotional. We hope that they'll use what they've seen through this program to maybe deter some negative experiences down the road."