Students at Appling Middle School were in jail today.
Well, not really. But some of them did make a choice, after learning that 75% of prison inmates are school dropouts. Boarding the choice bus, these kids pledged to stay in school, and avoid the slammer.
"It made me wanna think twice about who I hang with and who I listen to, says Appling Middle School student Genesis Hawkins. "You don't want to be in a place like that in that type of environment."
It's an initiative started by the Mattie C. Stewart foundation, who's partnering with Communities in Schools and State Farm to get kids to realize the choices they make, even as early as elementary school, have consequences.
"They get behind in classes, they never catch up, those things all start to have an effect by middle school for sure," says Choice Bus Senior Presenter Chet Pennock.
After getting on the bus, students met Monique, who had an eye-opening story.
"Now I'm suffering, because of one idiot decision I made," says Monique, a prisoner featured on the video shown to students on the Choice Bus.
And behind a black curtain, the other half of the bus is a replica of Monique's prison cell. Students are brought into this jail cell, where they see firsthand just how limiting life in prison can be.
Appling Middle School student Keedrick Washington told me the Choice Bus experience helped validate the decision he made three years ago to stay in school.
"I think it'll help me be the person I wanna be in life," says Washington.
District 139 Representative and Communities in School chairman of the board James Beverly was also at the presentation.
"Sometimes in our community, prisons and jails are glamorized. [The Choice Bus] puts you right up in person, there's no glamorization. That cell shuts and that's the end of it.
No sugar coating, no mincing words.
Educators want these kids to understand that the choices they make everyday have a lasting impact.
Students also learned that those who stay in school make on average a million dollars more in their lifetime than someone who drops out.
The Choice Bus will be in Bibb County all this week visiting Rutland and Westside High schools and Ballard-Hudson middle.