MAKING THE GRADE SCHOOL SUCCESS STORIES
Students take their studies to streets
Clayton students cover neighborhood to offer residents safety tips.Kenny Glisch may be a freshman at Drew High in Riverdale, but he’s already thinking about the future. The 14-year-old is getting a head-start on exploring a career in law and justice through the Clayton County system’s Career, Technology and Agricultural Education initiative. “This program spoke to me the most since my dad was a cop for 25 years,” said Glisch. “It’s one of the few classes where you can go right into the field out of high school while working on a post-secondary education.” Clayton’s CTAE program offers 23 courses in topics ranging from culinary arts and carpentry to financial services and technology. Glish’s law enforcement class is part of a cluster that gives students insight into what it’s like to be a security or police officer. “The idea is to prepare students for a skill or train them so they can continue their education at a 2- or 4-year college or university,” said Eboni Chillis, the CTAE coordinator for the school system. “Or they can obtain an entry-level position in the field of their choice. And they can take different programs at our nine high schools and open campus.” The law and justice area is popular due to what Chillis dubs “the ‘CSI’ effect.” “Students are so interested in ‘CSI’ that they believe the field is as fun and exciting as it is on television,” she said. “This program gives them the opportunity to delve into the curriculum and study the skills needed for public safety, corrections and security fields. It helps them visualize what they might do in a particular field.” One of the important elements of the CTAE program is its hands-on approach. Through internships and projects with local business and organizations, they get to see the subject as it operates in the real world. Glisch and about 20 fellow students from Drew, Riverdale and Forest Park high schools got a taste of community policing on De. 11 when they took part in Shining Light, an event organized by the school system. In the early evening, students and members of the Clayton Neighborhood Revitalization Coalition, the school district, Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity and the county police department walked the streets of the Normandy neighborhood in College Park. They talked with residents about safety issues, particularly those that arise around the holiday season. Toting flashlights donated by Lowe’s and led by police cruisers with lights flashing, the teens passed out flyers offering tips on crime prevention that they had designed themselves. “I loved it,” said Glisch. “At first, when people saw cop cars with lights on coming through the neighborhood, I think they were wary. But as they came out to see what was happening, we told them it was a safety-related event, and we talked about security measures, like leaving lights on and not posting your whereabouts on social media. I think they really appreciated what we were doing.” The event also fulfilled research and reporting requirements students must meet for the class. And it gave neighborhood residents a chance to interact positively with students who might be the next generation of uniformed officers.