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      Choice Bus provides local students with eye-opening experience

      The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation's Choice Bus offers students a first hand view of the consequences that come from dropping out. The bus made two stops to Albany-area schools Thursday.

      Every 26 seconds nationwide, a student drops out of high school. But today, with the help of the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, many Albany middle-schoolers may not fall victim to that statistic.The foundation partnered with State Farm to bring the Choice Bus to several locations across Southwest Georgia this week. Half school bus and half mock-jail cell, the Choice Bus has been a powerful tool for change for over two million students across twenty different states.The whole idea behind the choice bus is to show students that there is a better way, said Lynn Smelley, a Program Manager for the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. The right choices lead them down the right roads and the right roads include a better lifestyle. And that TMs what we want them to understand. Stay in school, get an education, and learn. Learn that, like I said, there is a better way.The Choice Bus program started back in 2008, just a year after the Stewart Foundation opened its doors. The Foundation puts its emphasis on reducing the national dropout rate, an issue that has a more profound impact than most may realize. 75% of inmates in the U.S. correctional system are high school dropouts. The Stewart Foundation believes the Choice Bus allows students to see the potential consequences of their decisions, without having to suffer any of the actual consequences.The Choice Bus experience allows students to envision two dramatically different futures and sends a powerful message about the value of education. The major focus during the presentation is showing young people what education can do for them and how it TMs connected to career choices and lifetime earning potential, said Sherri Stewart, Executive Director of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation.The bus made stops in Thomasville Wednesday and will be at the South Georgia Regional Achievement Center and College and Career Performance Learning Center in Albany Thursday before heading north to Columbus.To learn more about The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation and The Choice Bus, visit And for more of the latest news stay connected to FOX 31 News.