Last week we remembered the legacy of one of Morgan County’s very own civil rights leaders, Laura Wilson Butler, who died last year and has sealed her place among many who lived their lives to uplift the African-American community and the community as a whole. This week, we look toward the future, as the current generation continues that work in our very own community.
A new coach at Morgan County High School, Coach Aubrey Fortson, is not just focused on fostering students’ athletic potential, but cultivating well-rounded students with strong moral character and the tools to make good life decisions.
“I think he wants to make a difference in the lives of our boys and girls, and that’s just what we need,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman.
Coach Fortson has started two programs this year, the O.M.G. (Optimism, Magnificence, and Greatness) Program and the Hope Program.
The O.M.G. Program aims to give high school students a taste of adulthood and the outcomes possible for their futures–both good and bad.
The new program has taken students on field trips designed to acquaint them with the worst and best case scenarios.
“We are trying to broaden their perspective–both ways. If you make bad mistakes, this is what you might have to face, but if you make good decisions, look where you can end up,” said Fortson.
Earlier this year, Forston took a group of high schoolers to Jackson, Georgia to see the prison there. Forston as future field trips planned for the students to visit criminal court hearings and the University of Georgia.
“We want these kids to see it all, to see where their lives could end up if they make the wrong decisions and what they could accomplish if they made the right decision,” explained Forston. “When we take them to the court hearings, I hope they see two different destinations. Depending on their life choices, they could end up as the criminals being sentenced or the lawyers and judges with successful careers.”
The students will sit in on a court case on February 15 in Newton County and be able to have a question and answer session with the judge afterward. The O.M.G Program will also feature guest speakers for students to educate them on various life lessons. The second program, the HOPE Program, recruits MCHS students to become mentors to students at Morgan County Elementary School.
“This benefits both the older kids and the younger kids,” said Fortson. “It gives the younger kids some role models to look up to and spend time with and it encourages the older kids to be good examples and leaders to these younger kids. It makes everyone better,” said Fortson.
Every Thursday, MCHS students head over MCES for an afternoon of conversations and games.
“The seniors you sent demonstrated grace and character–teaching our young men excellent social skills,” said Stacy Dearing, a counselor at MCES. “I was so impressed with their professionalism and willingness to step up and lead our younger students. It just amazes me how much of an impact poised, professional young men can have on our students. Thank you for initiating the HOPE Program. We are off to a wonderful start.”
Fortson, who has initiated similar programs at different school systems he has worked with in Elbert County, Putnam County and Monticello, is passionate about preparing his students for the world outside of school.
“Everyone has to make their own decisions and find their own way once they leave our schools. I just want to help them be ready for what’s out there and to do well with their lives,” said Fortson. “I always thought Morgan County was a great school system and a great place to live. It is a blessing and an honor for me to be here. I just want to do my part.”