School, life lessons taught at JDT

CENTREVILLE — “If you make mistakes, you learn for the next time,” State Rep. Aaron Miller told students at the Juvenile Day Treatment Center in Centreville Monday, Feb. 27 as he taught them a new skill, that of baking his “Great-Grandma Wickey’s Amish Oatmeal Bread.”
He walked three pairs of students through the process of making a loaf of bread, down to cleaning out the bowl without the dough going down the sink.
Life lessons are among the many things taught at the JDT, a combined effort between county schools, the St. Joseph County Intermediate School District and St. Joseph County Juvenile Court to assist at-risk youth on formal probation.
A typical school day runs from 8 a.m. — 3 p.m., with programs such as counseling and intervention from 3-6 p.m.
Life skills such as canning are taught, and currently the students are growing heirloom tomatoes and lettuce from seed. When the growing process is complete, students will learn how to save the seeds for future perpetuation of their plants.
This year the students are in sixth- through 10th grade; the program can take them through 11th grade but are capped at a maximum of 10 students due to space.
If they complete the necessary requirements, they can go back to their schools either when the new semester starts or when the new school year starts.
The school, now in its 18th year, is directed by Lori Barczak and taught by Chad Behrends, assisted by six part-time staff. Over the years, more than 200 young people have gone through, and a recent study showed a success rate of more than 40 percent, based on students getting their GED, completing school or getting a job and not reoffending either in the juvenile or adult system.
“If you know about re-occurring crimes, that’s a pretty good rate,” Behrends said.
Elena Meadows can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or news@threeriversnews.com.

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