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11/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
Teens thrive in second-chance program
'I always told myself I'd be something better than my parents'
Student Brianna Plummer, 18, helps her 14-month-old baby, Trenton De Los Santos, play with a toy at the alternative campus. Students with babies are encouraged to bring their children with them as they study and participate in classes. Plummer will be graduating this year and plans to become an auto mechanic and eventually own a repair shop. (KIM STEELE/Miner)
Student Brianna Plummer, 18, helps her 14-month-old baby, Trenton De Los Santos, play with a toy at the alternative campus. Students with babies are encouraged to bring their children with them as they study and participate in classes. Plummer will be graduating this year and plans to become an auto mechanic and eventually own a repair shop. (KIM STEELE/Miner)
Students in Deeanna Cody’s PACE class read a book together. The program is one of four at the alternative campus, which provides a place for students who need a helping hand because of personal, family or school-related problems. (KIM STEELE/Miner)
Students in Deeanna Cody’s PACE class read a book together. The program is one of four at the alternative campus, which provides a place for students who need a helping hand because of personal, family or school-related problems. (KIM STEELE/Miner)

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - Senior Rhiannon Sullivan, 18, knows what it's like to be a troubled teenager.

When she was a freshman, she got kicked out of Kingman High School for fighting, skipping classes and generally not caring about school. The year before, Sullivan's mother had died, and the youth was passed around to various relatives. The chaos in her life led her to act out, she said, and to become "a bad kid."

Sullivan was sent to the ICARE program - which stands for I Choose Attitude, Responsibility, Effort - at the Kingman Unified School District's alternative campus. There, she participated in a structured, self-paced program before moving on to other specialized programs designed to help her stay in school and ultimately succeed in life.

Now, thanks to an insurance settlement, Sullivan has purchased a home and is living on her own in it. She made straight A's last year and is on track to graduate with a diploma this year. Her career goal is to attend college to become a dentist.

"I always told myself I'd be something better than my parents," said Sullivan, noting both were alcoholics. "They didn't graduate from high school. I just want to make something out of myself and have nice things. But I don't think I would be in school now if it weren't for these programs. They have changed my life for the better."

The alternative campus was the brainchild of coordinator Sandy McCoy, who began an in-school tutoring program called SAVE in 1981 to help students who were falling through the cracks. In 1990, the program moved to Mohave Community College, where it stayed until 2006, when it was moved to two modular buildings at 690 Spring St., which became the district's alternative campus.

Over the years, more programs have been added to the alternate campus roster. Besides ICARE, there is PACE (Positive Actions Create Excellence); PASS (Positive Alternatives for Student Success); and PALS (Positive Accountability Leads to Success). All programs are structured to provide varying levels of discipline, education and assistance to students who need a helping hand.

Currently, 185 students from Kingman High School and Lee Williams High School are enrolled in the programs. Of those, 30 are pregnant or teen parents, 13 are on probation or parole, 30 are living on their own and 61 have jobs to help support themselves or their families. Alternative campus students have comprised between 18 and 30 percent of each year's graduating class since 2000, when the first group graduated. Since then, 1,192 students have graduated from the alternative campus, receiving their diplomas in ceremonies with students from the two high schools.

"There are some heartbreaking stories that come from these students," said McCoy. "They have a lot of courage to keep coming to school in the face of their obstacles. I'm proud of these kids because they just keep on going.

"Some say they're lazy or bad kids, and that's not true. Life has just gotten in the way for some of them. And even though life hasn't dealt them the best hand, they keep on playing."

Aundrea Jeffers, 20, has been a student at the alternative campus since she was 15 years old. Jeffers said she was taken from her mother that year by Child Protective Services and placed in foster homes. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 16 after she became ill and missed numerous classes. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Jeffers plans to graduate this year.

"School is the best thing that has happened to me," said Jeffers, who lives with a friend. "If I wasn't in these programs, I wouldn't be sitting here today. I've had a lot of setbacks in my life, and with Crohn's disease, it's a challenge every day just to get up. But I'm very close to graduating now and I'm really proud of how far I've come."

Brianna Plummer, 18, held her 14-month-old son, Trenton De Los Santos, as he played at the alternative campus. Plummer came to the school in 2009 after finding it difficult to get along with other students at Kingman High School. When she got pregnant, she decided to stay at the campus because the flexible schedule allowed her to work at McDonald's, continue classes and take care of her son. Plummer plans to graduate this year.

"It's very hard to do all this," said Plummer. "I have a baby and he gets sick or I can't find a babysitter. The programs here are flexible, and that's the best part. School is very important to me. I want to go to college, become an auto mechanic and own a repair business someday. I'm trying really hard to make that happen."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Article comment by: BROOKE BOUVIER

You know, I read the Daily Miner 2-4x a week and every other comment always seems to be negative. These young people are actually trying to better their lives and they are still getting belittled. What a double ended sword they are enduring. I congratulate anyone bettering themselves and to the young moms who are parenting and going to school you have my highest complements, keep up the good work!

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“The mess is still there. Respecting others property is also part of life. I encourage the Miner to come take a picture.”

Right on schedule. It is amazing how every rant you have runs on a 90 to 120 day rotation. Go pick up the trash if it bothers you so much, oh wait, that means you would actually have to do something instead of complaining all of the time – about everything.

Which reminds me – do you still like looking at the new flag at the Museum after complaining about the old one – and remembering who donated it?


Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Thai Mai Shu

Oh Linda you are such a motivating person.

If that little spot of trash in your world is so distracting why not do the Christian thing and clean it up so some other Kingmanite wont be so traumatized when they see it.


Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Article comment by: Brady Lollar

[Comment exceeded word limit.]

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: KDM online reader

This program may have helped the 20-year-old Phoenix woman who was recently caught smuggling into the Arizona State Prison.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I'm sorry for the hard life many of these students have had and wish them well.

However, while teaching them skills and responsibility, not allowing trashing their campus, many students instead walk across to private and city land and trash it. So bad, and an impossibility to pick up the thousands of butts and papers left, (we tried) I asked the school to put a big lined can for their use and have their janitor empty/re-line it once a week.

They installed a can connected into the ground, then someone deliberately knocked it over with a car. Fixed now, the students still throw the butts and mess around the can, not always in it.

I assumed the woman in charge would have the garbage culprits clean up their mess when the new can came in. She did not, saying she wasn't sure who all did it. She could have asked those responsible to come forward or simply done a community clean up project. Good training. I would never have allowed them to do this.

The mess is still there. Respecting others property is also part of life. I encourage the Miner to come take a picture.


Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: cute baby

I have always noticed when children have babies they are always extra cute, maybe because they are not fully physically and mentally developed and they have not endured the stress of a seasoned adult.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Sarah Morgan

I went to PASS after being a high school dropout for over a year and a half. I wasnt motivated in a normal setting. I went there three months before graduation and had so much motivation from the teachers to succeed. If it wasnt for PASS I never would have graduated on time. Such an excellent program and the teachers really do care.

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Article comment by: Laurie Voss Barthlow

Praise to Sandy McCoy and all the good people who teach and run these programs. And kudos to the kids who participate and stick it out to graduation. I wholeheartedly echo Ms. McCoy's sentiments in this article, and continue to be impressed by the success of these alternative programs.



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