The Choice Bus, half classroom and half prison cell, stops to inspire Shelby County students

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Graduation rates are up in Shelby County Schools, and one nonprofit is hoping to continue that trend by showing students the importance of making the right choice.

Thirteen-year-old Devin Rutherford, an eighth-grader at Bellevue Middle, was one of 250 students who visited The Choice Bus on Tuesday to learn about the impact choices have on the rest of their lives.

Rutherford is hoping his choices lead to a bright future.

“I want to go to the University of Alabama and try to make it pro in the NFL, but if I don’t make it in the NFL, be a cook or barber,” he said.

The Choice Bus is a school bus that’s half classroom and half prison cell, and it teaches children the importance of education.

“I learned that prison is not a good place, and if you get your education and do good in school, hang around the right crowd, then you may not end up in prison,” Rutherford said. “It’s based off your choices in school because it starts in school first.”

The bus is part of a bigger mission to reach students in Shelby County.

“It goes along with our superintendent’s initiative to really work with our young African-American males,” Bellevue Middle Principal Frederick White said. “Right now, we know that’s our lost population of students, so we really want to make sure out students see the choices they have.”

White hopes to show the children they can accomplish their dreams, despite what’s in front of them now.

“I think our students start to see there are alternatives to some of the ways they’ve seen glamorized on making money,” White said.

Making the wrong choice can lead them down the wrong path and the wrong place and waste time they will never get back.

“I don’t want to lose years of my life because that’s wasted time that I could be spending with my family and doing better,” Rutherford said.

The Choice Bus will stop at three more schools in the Mid-South through Friday to highlight the importance of making the right choices.

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