‘I see success:’ DAY Program honors 2015 class

Leo Marquette, center, accepts an award from DAY Program Director Kathy Miller, right, as his classmates applaud him during a May 21 ceremony. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Leo Marquette, center, accepts an award from DAY Program Director Kathy Miller, right, as his classmates applaud him during a May 21 ceremony. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Reciting a phrase often heard in the classrooms of the Alabaster-based DAY Program Jeff Hatcher had an optimistic view of his future.

“There is no such thing as bad kids, we just make bad decisions,” Hatcher said. “The (DAY Program) staff, they feel that they are giving back to the community and helping future generations.

“I have grown to believe in myself,” Hatcher added.

Hatcher has not had the easiest road to his current success. After becoming involved with drugs and watching his friend die as the result of a drug-related shooting, Hatcher spent time in the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Facility before being referred to the DAY Program.

The DAY Program serves at-risk students from the Shelby County, Alabaster and Pelham school systems, and offers a rigorous curriculum and supervision designed to get the students back on track.

During a May 21 awards ceremony at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center in Alabaster, the DAY Program’s staff honored students who have worked hard in the classroom, shown significant academic and behavioral improvement and shown a desire to improve their attitudes.

Among the dozens of honorees at the program was rising senior Ashley Ward, who had a baby at 14 and previously was abusing drugs.

“Before the DAY Program, I was skipping school and doing drugs,” Ward said. “I will be a senior this upcoming year. The DAY Program has helped me to straighten up and get my life back on track.”

WIAT sports anchor Lauren Sisler, who lost her parents to prescription painkiller addictions, served as the featured speaker of the ceremony, and encouraged the students to avoid the road to drug abuse.

“You guys have your entire lives ahead of you, but you only get one life,”Sisler told the students. “The question I ask you today is ‘What do you want to be remembered for?’”

DAY Program counselor Gerald Creel praised the students for working to improve their lives.

“I look at you, and I see success,” Creel said. “Take those successes and use them to do good things with your lives.”