Diplomas are keys to better lives

Published 12:43 am Monday, March 27, 2006

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS - Only the caps and gowns were missing during this graduation. The smiles of pride were evident. It was graduation day Wednesday, at the Cass County Jail.
They may all wear matching uniforms, eat when told to, and have lights out, but these inmates have a difference - inside. The six who graduated with diplomas from the Cassopolis Public Schools have all made a commitment to themselves - to change.
Derek Grahl of Cassopolis lost his grandfather, so in his name he would like to go into the Army and eventually attend college.
Courtney Martin of Dowagiac and Niles, doesn't really have anything definite in mind, but with his diploma, he wants to attend a community college.
For Shannon Meyers of Dowagiac, who eventually turned herself in, said, “it will be great to walk out and not hide from police.
She almost didn't get her diploma. “I wanted to give up,” she said. “Math isn't my thing.” She intends to “continue to upgrade my computer skills” probably at Southwestern Michigan College.
Russell Hawthorne of Cassopolis plans to use his diploma to seek “a good job to take care of my kids.” Along with studying, Hawthorne has been working at the Cass County Animal Shelter.
Inmates share some traits, Affriseo said, they don't respect authority and have drug and alcohol problems. But he told the graduates, they have “put in the work. School is a job,” he said.
The officers find those who are concentrating on studying, are the ones who aren't making trouble. “Those with no ambition cause trouble,” he added.
If they have been released, they are also eligible to attend the adult education actual graduate and field trip to Washington, D.C.