Headland Middle School G.R.E.A.T. GraduationSandra Stokes Walden
Posted by: Sandra Walden
Date: May 23 2014 1:55 PM
This morning my husband and I attended the 8th Grade G.R.E.A.T. Graduation ceremonies at Headland Middle School. A graduation ceremony was also held earlier for the 6th grade. G.R.E.A.T. is a Gang Resistance Education and Training course that is taught locally by Headland Police Lt. Dennis Cobb. In his opening remarks Lt Cobb said that part of the G.R.E.A.T. program was completing a community service project. Students were involved in a landscape beautification project at their school.
Following Lt. Cobb’s welcome Headland Police Chief Mark D. Jones introduced the speaker, Hon. Derek Peterson, District Judge of Henry County. Judge Peterson told the students that in the State of Alabama you are considered an adult at the age of 19 but at the age of 18 you can be charged as an adult. Judge Peterson also serves as the Juvenile Judge in Henry County. There have been three twelve year olds sent to DYS from Henry County.
Judge Peterson told the students that they need to be aware that social media is monitored by law enforcement agencies. You need to be very careful with what you post and what you see on social media because it can affect your future.
Some of the saddest cases Judge Peterson works with are child abuse victims, drugs and alcohol cases. His fear is these students becoming a part of that population.
There are three points that Judge Peterson stressed to the students that he sees as factors in the lives of those who appear before him in court:
1. You do not have a driver’s license. Most people lose their license because of failure to appear in court because of a ticket.
2. You do not have a high school diploma.
3. You do not pass a drug test.
Judge Peterson advised the students to go ahead and make some plans, look at careers and look to the future. In order to be a Judge you must first become a lawyer. You must be tenacious and work hard. A lawyer must complete seven years of schooling. Many are not willing to work for seven years for a degree and think 25 to 26 years of age is a long time to wait to begin a career. A very wise man from this county told Judge Peterson that he was going to be 25 anyway so why not get his law degree.
The things you learn now will be very important down the road. I am very proud of each of you. I like to see shirttails tucked in and you are respectful.
How do most people get into the criminal justice system? Drugs. The people tested in the criminal justice system fail the drug test 95% of the time.
Do not look to gangs and criminal activity. Depend on yourself. Do your best.
Following Judge Peterson’s address each student was presented with a certificate. Mrs. Amy Single and Mrs. Carla Gamble assisted Lt Cobb.
The Headland Police Department was presented a $1,000 check from the DA’s office in each graduation ceremony. The two thousand dollars is in appreciation for the work the Headland Police Department does in the community.