Ozark, AL - Behind the doors of the Opportunity Academy students are given a chance.
"I'm here for a second chance. My mama, I know she get tired of having to come pick me up from school because I get in trouble," said Derrick Leavigne, a student at the school.
Unlike a traditional alternative school, students can be referred for bad behavior or credit recovery and acceleration.
"Kind of what our driving force is, we're not here to remind the students of their past mistakes. We're here to inspire them to do better," said Howard Harrison, Opportunity Academy Director.
Many are. Some have raised their grades, and others have even completed a full grade year in a semester's time.
Derrick, Trevor, and Jasmine are each here for different reasons, but after Christmas break they'll be back at their regular school.
"I'm glad they have the opportunity academy. People look at me like, "You up there for trouble?" No I'm here for the credits. Stuff like that. Trying to get back on the right track," said Jasmine Johnson.
"You've got people behind you to motivate you to do good. You've got your consequences here and you've got your privileges," said Leavigne.
Privileges like talking at lunch, extra breaks, and even listening to an iPod can all be earned. As fun as that sounds, students are excited to return to the classroom.
"You can actually get up and talk. You have someone teaching you the work instead of trying to teach it to yourself," said Trevor Mathis.
"My mama is proud that I'm making good grades. She will actually tell people, "My son is doing this and my son is doing that," said Leavigne.
State school leaders are proud too. They were impressed during their visit, and say they would like to model all of the state's alternative schools around this type of Opportunity Academy.
The academy is made up of seventh through twelfth graders from Ozark city and Dale County schools.
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