When Dunbar Primary School students return to class next fall, their campus will look a little brighter and a little better. The gymnasium is being repainted this summer by a group of older kids with something to prove: they can successfully complete community service as part of their probation.
Eric Young, Angelina County Juvenile Probation Department, said, "We do have repeat offenders, but a lot of kids wind up coming back and doing community service with us even after they're through. I think a lot of that is just because they want to keep participating in the program and give back to their community."
The students work five days a week picking up trash, helping out at non-profit agencies, and repainting school buildings, based on the seriousness of their offense. They're learning community service is no slap on the wrist.
"It's just really a bunch of work," said one student. "It's kind of hard but you can't go out at night. You have to wake up real early to come to community service and they give you like a thousand sentences to write when you go to court - so you got a bunch of stuff to do before you paint or anything."
The student finished his six hours of community service last week, but instead of celebrating on his 17th birthday, he came back to the Dunbar gym just to see the finished product. He was sentenced to probation for repeatedly skipping school, but said this round of community service will be his last. Now, he has some advice for other teens planning to cut class.
"When you do, you have to go to court and if you don't do your first community service, you got a lot of hours after that and it just keeps on piling up on you," he said.