Rogers County Academy Aims To Keep Kids On Track During Suspension

Monday, August 26th 2013, 6:46 pm
By: News On 6

Monday was the first day of class at a new academy in Rogers County. The U-Turn Academy gives kids who are on long-term school suspension a place to do their work.

The Claremore Community Center is usually a place where people go to have fun, but this year it is also the home of the U-Turn Academy.

John Killebrew has dedicated most of his life to teaching kids.

"You'll probably find that a lot of the habitual offenders in the county jail were former students of mine and that's very sad," Killebrew said.

As a former Claremore alternative school administrator, he has seen kids from all walks of life face challenges that ultimately land them on a long-term school suspension.

"Knowing that, chances are, they would not do their work and they would be behind in their credits and then they would become a drop out," Killebrew said.

Last school year, more than 35 Rogers County students were suspended for more than 10 days. That's why a county youth services organization created the U-Turn program. It's designed to keep suspended kids off the street while they're not at school.

"They're home. They're not able to be supervised in many cases. They probably aren't staying caught up on their school work," said Volunteers for Youth Executive Director Melynda Stone.

The program accepts 10 to 17-year-olds from any school in the county. Students spend most of the day doing school work, but they also get to participate in community service activities.

This semester, a Rogers State University student is volunteering to mentor the academy's teens.

"It gives them an opportunity to interact with different people in the community," Killebrew said.

"We don't want to lose those kids out of our system. Hopefully, this will be something that will prevent that, as well," Stone said.

Killebrew said his hope is that they would reduce the number of students over time.

Right now, there are only three students at the U-Turn Academy, but the director says there is room for up to 10 students.