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Juvenile justice judge speaks to at-risk students about staying in school

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WAYNESBORO, GA (WFXG) -

Coming to school wasn't always easy for Randisha Wilson. The 8th grader said she had a bad attitude, and her grades began to slip.

"I was a good student in the beginning," Wilson said. "And then I was beginning to be bad and all that, but it's been changing. I didn't like coming to school or none of that.

But after a few semesters at Burke County Alternative School, she has a new view on education. Randisha is one of 60 students getting a second chance to be in the classroom and out of the court system.

As they celebrate Red Ribbon Week, the school invited juvenile justice judge Doug Flanagan to talk to them about the importance of staying in school. Judge Flanagan says this is one of the best schools in Burke County.

"This is the school that can make the biggest difference," said Hon. Flanagan. "Some schools judge them by who has the highest academic scores, which school has the best football team. The way I judge them is which students need the most work."

Judge Flanagan said he recognized some of the children who have been in his courtroom, and said he wasn't too different from many of them. Despite growing up in a poor area of Brooklyn, New York and taking five years to graduate high school, he encouraged students that their futures are still bright.

This month Wilson was awarded "Student of the Month," and is now focused on a one goal:

"Walk across the stage and get my diploma."

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