Program offers a ‘fresh start’

Published 1:35 am Monday, March 20, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Rosa Watts is ready to take the next step towards a career. The 20-year-old earned her high school diploma Friday from the Fresh Start program at Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles.
Rosa and her 19-year-old sister Earlieen were suspended from Niles High School in 2003 and began attending Fresh Start, which Earlieen graduated from in 2004.
Rosa said she also had ambitions put on hold.
The sisters said the constant encouragement from their mother, grandmother, Lisa Busby at the Ferry Street Resource Center and Step Team dance coach Denise Fowler got them back in school.
Rosa said the days at Fresh Start were shorter than what she was used to and, as a result, she was always studying.
The head of Fresh Start Charlie McAfee said she would like to have one million Rosa's at the program if she could.
McAfee said Fresh Start is designed to get any student that has been expelled from school back into the system.
The program currently serves around 18 students from Niles, Brandywine, Buchanan and Berrien Springs, McAfee said.
Fresh Start is not directly connected to the schools but works with the superintendents of the districts, McAfee said.
Both Rosa and Earlieen said more education is in their future. Earlieen is hoping to take courses in hospitality and Rosa still plans to become a beautician.