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Robinson encourages S.P.A.N. grads to make good choices

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chief Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson with the 19th Judicial Circuit was the guest speaker at this year’s S.P.A. N. program graduation on July 31.

He encouraged students to stay focused, go hard and not look back in every project they start and goal they pursue.

Robinson focused on the importance of making good choices, whether it seemingly only affects them or will impact their family and others.

“Every day every choice that you make, you are hammering a nail, you are turning a wrench (and) you are putting walls up (for the house of your life),” Robinson said. “The choices you make every day affect the people you have never met, they affect the people closest to you and they affect you. Every day deserves to be passionately lived, and it should have a purpose … You are not here as a mistake. You are here for a reason.”

At one point, Robinson asked the graduates to raise their right hand as high as they could for five seconds. Graduates were then asked to complete the exercise a second time.

“How many of you went higher the second time?” Robinson said. “If you did … (why) your directions were the same the first time and the second time.  In this small example, you had a second chance, …  that’s not always going to happen in life.”

He said second chances will not always be an option, so always do your best the first time.

He highlighted how choices made do have an impact on their family and friends. He shared a story how a person’s choice to meet someone to buy some drugs led to him being shot to death.

Several months later in the courtroom “the shooter turns to the family and he’s crying and he says, ‘I am so sorry the choice I made took your son from you. I know I can never bring him back but for what it’s worth, I’m very sorry.’ The mother who had lost her son walked over and hugged him.”

When an accomplice made a similar statement, the parents told him they forgave him.

“I don’t know how they had that strength,” Robinson said.

He said that family made a choice to forgive, rather than staying angry for the rest of their lives.

Robinson told the graduates that they need to make choices that will have a positive impact and take responsibility for their decisions.

This year there were four students who had completed their GED and 12 students who had completed work to be back on grade level after being at least two years behind.

GED graduate Sam Kendrick was the graduate speaker.

“No matter what our future holds, no doubt there will be challenges, but I hope each and every one of you will go into each one with your head held high,” Kendrick said. “It is not enough in this world just to scrape by. You have to try your best to excel in everything you do.”

Kendrick encourage the graduates that each accomplishment was important. He encouraged graduates to be giving to others as they strive for success.

“I might not have the power to inspire everyone to strive for success, but if I can just inspire one person it is worth it,” Kendrick said. “My wish for every one of you select full of happiness and success.”

Certificates of completion were presented by Judge Chris Speaks.

“I am proud of you,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of a high school diploma or GED.

“When you get out there in this world and you start to go to work, that is what employers want to know,” Speaks said.

He said employers want to know someone has this not so much to be assured that the person knows math or literature but to know that they will finish what they start.

Also during the ceremony, a plaque was presented to the family of the late Rep. Jimmy Martin in recognition of his support for the program.

The S.P.A.N. program serves students 12-18 who are at least two years behind the grade level that they should be in school. Referrals to the program are made by juvenile court. Students are typically in the program for six months to a year.