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Students hear from presenters about choices, consequences

Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Vidalia Junior High School eighth-graders Jonathan Norris, left, and Hunter Bailey look at cards given to them during a presentation from CHOICES Education Group. The cards had different choices written on them to a situation Dara Shirley, at left, picked out involving hanging out with friends or studying for a test.

VIDALIA — When Asia Ellis, 14, heard most universities across the nation require at least a 3.5 grade point average to be accepted, she decided it was time to make better choices about her schoolwork.

“I had no idea what kind of GPA you needed to get into a good school,” Ellis said sitting in her second period social studies class. “That really makes me want to start doing better in school because I want to get into a good school.”

Ellis, an eighth grader at Vidalia Junior High School, spent an hour Wednesday and Thursday listening to presentations from CHOICES Education Group volunteers.

The group, which has been doing presentations in the Concordia Parish School District for five years, helps empower students with tools that will increase their career and life opportunities.

During Thursday’s presentation, Dara Shirley talked to Ellis and the rest of D’Shay Oaks’ eighth-grade class about the importance of planning ahead in order to succeed.

“You have to anticipate and plan ahead with your education,” Shirley said. “Start now and train yourselves the rest of this year, so when you get into ninth grade next year, you’ll have a good year.”

Apart from discussions regarding good and bad choices to make, students from the class participated in a mock job interview.

Shirley played the role of someone interested in a receptionist position for the class’ fictional shoe company, Viking Shoes.

Three volunteers from the class asked the potential future employee questions about her experience and work ethic.

During the interview, Shirley purposely smacked a piece of chewing gum loudly, answered a text and showed poor attitude.

“Who would have hired me to work for their company?” Shirley asked the class after the interview.

When no students in the class raised their hand, Shirley discussed the proper techniques to a successful interview and how each choice they make has consequences.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a little or big choice, they both have consequences,” Shirley said. “There are consequences to every action, and those can affect many, many people.”

That kind of advice is something Lakota Burns, 14, said she will use in her plan to someday attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“I learned that I won’t be able to achieve my goals if I don’t make good choices now,” Burns said. “No school is going to want someone with a low GPA and little class experience.”

The CHOICES program visited Ferriday Junior High earlier this week and will visit Monterey High School today.