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Theo Ratliff students learn consequences of underage drinking

Makayla Ash, a student in the Theo Ratliff Center’s Summer Adventures in Learning program asks Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese if his job is hard during a special program held Thursday. Reese responded that some days his job is difficult, especially those times when bad things happen to people in the community.

Makayla Ash, a student in the Theo Ratliff Center’s Summer Adventures in Learning program asks Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese if his job is hard during a special program held Thursday. Reese responded that some days his job is difficult, especially those times when bad things happen to people in the community.

Local officials were invited to a program at the Theo Ratliff Center Thursday when students of the summer program there heard about the dangers of underage drinking and drinking and driving.
As part of the Summer Adventures in Learning Program (SAIL), Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson and Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese spoke to students, ages 6 through 13.
Grayson told the children to be careful of the dangers of peer pressure in making the right choices.
“As you get older people pull on you to try things,” Grayson said. “You have to be tough enough to say, ‘I don’t need to do that to have a good time.’”
Reese followed by adding that, even as younger children, the decisions they make have consequences for their future.
“I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement from a very young age. I had friends wanting me to do all sorts of things, but I knew that wasn’t the course I wanted to take. I challenge each of you to be different when you are asked to do things you know aren’t right,” Reese said.
The police chief also spoke about bullying and the police-community relationship.
The Theo Ratliff Center’s summer camp is being conducted through a partnership with Aletheia House. The SAIL program was made possible through a grant from the Black Belt Community Foundation. The program is designed to help children in grades 3-5 avoid summer learning loss in reading and math. The students also participate in activities that re-enforce positive behaviors.
The five-week program began June 6 and continues through July 15.
“This program is a bridge between the final day of school and the first day of the next school year,” said Keesha Jamison, a teacher at the Ratliff Center. “We provide a structured program to help students avoid forgetting things they learned during the school year and teach about positive actions that build confidence and self-esteem.”
Through the course of the camp, students are engaged through character-building lessons, health and fitness, music, arts and crafts, swimming, dancing, mentoring, and by listening to guest speakers.
Teachers of the SAIL program include: Carolyn Moore, Charlotte Owens, Angenelle Jones, Hester Brown, and Lucy Eatmon. Student workers are Aundria Murdock, Darnesha Harris, and Chyanna Robinson. The Ratliff Center Director is Edward Ward.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, July 9, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)