Former Gang Member Speaks to Students

Efforts are underway to address alleged gang activity in schools. Kemper County High School invited a former gang member to speak to students Tuesday.

A month ago, there was tension at the campus after text messages circulated claiming their would be violence at the school. Nothing happened.

"There's been a great improvement since that time. The kids are acting much better," said principal Mary Smart.

Since the outburst of alleged gang-related activity, police say they haven't even received any further reports. School officials credit at least part of this to the district's approach to addressing the problem.

"We have a school counselor. We also have a mental health counselor that comes in some of the students go to the mental health counselor. Some of the students have had psychiatric evaluation since the last disturbance we had here at Kemper County High," Smart said.

Also people from throughout the community are being brought in to help address the problem. Reformed gang leader, William Perry McClelland, spoke to students.

"I'm not active with the organization, because I don't condone the things that are going on, but I do affiliate with the men in the organization," McClelland said.

McClelland, who spent 11 years in prison on a drug charge, says he still finds it important to associate to some degree with gang members in hopes of reaching them and students, such as the ones at Kemper County High.

"A young lady came up to me and said, 'you are very much inspiration to me' and a young man said that he was affiliated with a gang but he was not in one and I hope that he doesn't get in," McClelland said.

"I could tell by their silence, apparently they were really paying attention and listening," said Coach Jerry Byrd of the basketball and football staff.-

This is something that McClelland and school officials say they hope will pay off in the long run.


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  • by Visitor of graduration Location: Kemper County on May 18, 2009 at 09:00 AM
    Yesterday, at gradu ration was a disastor. I hope that the school board, supt., parents, admin., teachers. Graduration 2009 was a total mess, now u see that things are out of control. and it seem to me there is nothing that can be done about it. Kemper County looks bad once again. How r u going to coner this up. We laughs about it but its not funny. its very sad. KIds all over the world cuts up but when its comme to the public they know how to act. KA kids acts to same way but parents and teachers, admin,
  • by LA Location: Kemper on May 15, 2009 at 06:10 AM
    Good Morning to all 3rd Hall Personnel, Mr. WG, Coach WT, Ms. AB, Coach BG This is your thought for today: Oh, what a tangled web we weave When first we practice to deceive
  • by Anonymous on May 14, 2009 at 01:55 PM
    Be careful with perry toole and for gods sake please and i repeat please don't dare think about dating this man. If he come on strong to you RUN PLEASE RUN!
  • by concerned parent Location: kemper on May 14, 2009 at 10:51 AM
    Mrs. Smart hang in there. You have to clean up a mess that was created by Ruffin and Wright.
  • by Terry Location: kemper on May 14, 2009 at 09:12 AM
    Come on peoples let be real, at first some teachers cared. Now the kids have no respect for nobody and nowhere. The finger is to be pointed at everybody. And these problems didn't start over night. In elementary, Mrs. S Newton should be the principal, She could control the student, But the system let our children get out of hand in order to keep grown folks happen. WKE have been have teachers problems every since, and the kids leave there already out of control. EKE was theiving, Smart had it on the right track good communcation with staff and parents all working together. Doing a Great job. NO changing should of been made. Now it's not the same. KCH was coming up the ladder and we let Wright distroy that and we havn't bounce back. Them Alabama Retired teacher fot to go. If the people of kemper county didn't want him as the sheriff, why make him to sheriff over our children. He been doing wrong, covering up, and lodown all his life. Smart can't handle the KCH. So stop hurting the kids.
  • by LA Location: Kemper on May 14, 2009 at 04:38 AM
    I cannot understand why a parent who attended the PTA meetings did not get anything out it, PTA is a partnership between the Parents and Teachers working together on behalf of the students and the school. It is apparently that "concerned parent" was not doing their part. They were just there. Concerned parent was not actively involved. How can you expect a withdraw when you haven't made a deposit? Yes, a successful school need qualify personnel, but it also need qualify "parents". Parents who care. I have attended many PTA and Board Meetings in the county -- and you can count the parents on one hand. PARENTS OF KEMPER COUNTY WHERE ARE YOU!
  • by Parent Location: Kemper County on May 13, 2009 at 08:26 PM
    I am a concerned parent of a KCHS student. I do agree with the comment that we need stronger leadership in the school system beginning with the Superintendent, Principal, Board and some teachers who are at the school just for a paycheck and not qualified for the position that they have. I have attended board meetings, PTA meetings, and personally did not get anything out of them. Every question that was asked, the answer was around the question and not directly to the question. Educatin does start at home,but we also have to have qualitifed people within the school system to continue the education. As far as the gang activity,sex,and fighting at the school,I was a student at KCHS once,and we simply had Admin and staff that did not tolerate the behavior.We did not have security, because the staff there then was qualified to control situations such as monitoring halls and bathrooms where a lot of the activity is going on.
  • by RR Location: Kemper on May 13, 2009 at 01:28 PM
    I made a mistake: I meant to say: What can you say about a teacher that can not transfer their knowledge to a student? Sorry
  • by concern parents Location: kemper on May 13, 2009 at 12:38 PM
    Really and truely, we needs to stop lying, everybody. It's our children who we are losing and they are not just acting up at school. We see these problems at home also. Now that we know people will lie, and cover up stuff, that needs to be addressed and we need to get our children in control ourself, stop waiting systems to let one of our babies end up hurt. Parents lets pull together and get our children to help they need. And I pray that GOD deals with everybody and everything, from the superintendent down to the Bus driver. All this sex, drugs, and uncover business, lying, cheating. OUr students gets it from the alduts. Our school systems is in very bad shape in everyway, grades,Teacher your children your self and what you don't know there are all kinds of software out there to help our children and we spend money on everything else, like cell phone, games, everything that is in styles. So hire your childrens a tutor. These are our children and the world is no waiting on them. NOW
  • by Employee Location: Kemper on May 13, 2009 at 11:15 AM
    I am an employee of KCH. Over the years I have seen first hand of teachers doing things they should not be. I have also seen the changes Mrs. Smart is trying to bring to KCH. She has done a GREAT job. First teachers and employees need to be brought under control and do their job, then we can focus on the real reason we are all here, and that is for the students. Mrs. Smart has turned this place around the short time shes been here. We have all got to work together and stand behind her and not criticize. Mrs. Smart and Security keep up the GOOD work.
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