About Face! helps students prepare

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thanks to the About Face! program, another group of Dallas County students are better prepared to continue their education.

The program’s 2005 Spring II graduation was held Tuesday evening at the National Guard Armory.

“We have some exceptional students this time,” said J.L. Chestnut III, About Face! Site Manager. “One girl – Adrienne Cunningham – is salutatorian in her class.”

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Students from all four public high schools in Dallas County make up this graduating class of About Face!

Of the 27 graduates, six are seniors.

“The seniors of this class have done an excellent job,” Chestnut said. “All of them have a 3.5 GPA or above and have plans to go to college.”

After students shared some of the highlights of the program,

Jerolene Williams, an administrator in the Dallas County School System, addressed the graduates. She urged them to develop

positive behaviors that will benefit them in life. During her speech, Williams told the students that character is not what you do, but what you do when people are not around to see you.

Despite the satisfaction of having yet another group of students complete the program, Chestnut and the other About Face! staff felt concerned about its future.

“We’re coming back up again,” said Col. Robin Norris. “Every year, like other grants, our grant goes before a review board. We are up for review and there’s a chance that our funding could be cut.”

“We have served roughly 240 students since the program began last year,” Chestnut said. “But, if the funding is cut, that will be the end of our program.”

Norris, the Army National Guard administrator/representative for the program, said that even though she has not yet met with the review board, she has met with Governor Bob Riley and he is impressed with the program and its outcomes.

“We’re successful and we’re spending tax dollars in a responsible manner,” she said. “The Governor is supporting us on this project and we’re confident that we will be funded next year.”

Norris said that they should know the funding status of the program by May 23.

“We certainly don’t need our funding cut because we are successful and well established,” she said. “The program is alive and doing well.”

The About Face! Spring II graduates are Marchina Baker, Nicole Brodnax, Sheridan Brown, Ashley Callens, Marilyn Carson, Kendra Craig, Adrienne Cunningham, Sherreil Edwards, Marcus Finny, Ashley Fitts, Diane Giles, Chellsie Hunter, Wannetka Jackson, Candace Johnson, Kendral Johnson, Kiara Jones, Jonathan McGuire, Jaqueline Pope, Shanita Scott, Erika Smith, Brittney Snow, Shannon Strong, Ashley Tolbert, LaTonya Vasser, Katrina Williams, Nikeshia Williams, and Sabrina Williams.

About Face! is sponsored by the Alabama Workforce Investment Act in partnership with the Alabama Military Department and the Alabama Army National Guard. The program teaches students life skills such as resume writing, balancing a checkbook, and job interview strategies, and provides them with drug prevention education, tutoring, and opportunities to work in local businesses.