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School 12 My Brother’s Keeper students with mentors and Detective Millington.

Students in the My Brother’s Keeper program at School 12 recently met with guest mentor Troy Police Detective Mark Millington to learn the proper way to interact with police officers if approached.

He also discussed ways to stay out of trouble; the most obvious being simply not doing things that are illegal, but also being critical in choosing your friends.

“If you choose to be in bad situations, bad things can happen,” said Millington. “Your behavior now sets the pattern for the rest of your life.”

My Brother’s Keeper is a mentor program established in 2014 under the Obama administration. It is focused on eliminating opportunity gaps faced by disadvantaged youth, particularly young boys of color. Troy’s Alternative Learning Program at School 12 was awarded a 3-year grant to operate the program after school.

Students are mentored by teachers, and earn the privilege of attending field trips for positive behavior, including trips to athletic games, movies and more. Recently, students took a tour of Hudson Valley Community College, giving them a sense of what it’s like to be on a college campus.

“Going to Hudson Valley [Community College] definitely got me thinking that [college] is something I might like to do,” said Omarion Skipworth, 8th Grade student.

Detective Millington speaks to School 12 students about interacting with police officers.

Detective Millington speaks to School 12 students about interacting with police officers.

The program follows a curriculum laid out in the book, Young Men of Purpose, written by Roy Dobbs. In it, he focuses on three elements: character, citizenship and academics. Recently, Mr. Dobbs visited the program, something Omarion found to be inspirational because they shared similar life experiences.

“The program has helped me because I can relate to someone, like when Roy Dobbs came in I could relate to him because we had a similar childhood,” said Omarion. “His book has helped me too because it helps me to write down my thoughts and emotions and shows me that we’re all the same.”

According to the program coordinator, Dr. Kenneth Newman, the goal of the program is to reduce the number of suspensions and to further help students graduate college, career and citizen ready. Currently, 99 percent of the students are passing all four subjects and are taking the lessons they’ve learned back to the classroom with them.

“I am confident to say that without My Brother’s Keeper we would see more disciplinary action,” said Newman. “They know what our expectations are and they want to meet them.”

As for Omarion, the program seems to be working.

“I’ve never made Honor Roll before in my life, but this semester I have an 86 average,” he said. “It’s my first time ever making it.”