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Rally gets teens thinking about future
Comedian Toni Griffin, or “Griff,” dances along with the Official Fresh Squad Dance Team on Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ back-to-school rally. - photo by Tom Reed

The Hall County Boys & Girls Clubs held a rally Wednesday to get teenagers excited about starting school.

About 175 teens filled the Positive Place Club gym for entertainment and inspirational speakers.

Joyce Wilson, vice president of development and marketing for the Boys & Girls Clubs, said the goal of the rally was to get teens to start thinking about their futures.

"We want them to get back to school with a positive message about why they need to stay in school and how important it is to the rest of their lives," Wilson said.

Chief Professional Officer Joe Ethier said he was pleased by the first back-to-school rally the Boys & Girls Clubs has had geared towards teenagers.

"It was excellent," Ethier said. "We want to start school on the right foot."

Wilson said the Boys & Girls Clubs has seen "pretty astounding" high school graduation rates since opening a teen center in 2006.

"Since we opened the teen center, 100 percent of our teens have graduated from high school," Wilson said.

Though school can be difficult, the Boys & Girls Clubs hoped to emphasize the fun and rewarding aspects of education with the rally.

Comedian Toni Griffin, also known as "Griff," was the master of ceremonies. The Gainesville High School cheerleaders performed as well as dance teams from local schools.

And no party would be complete without refreshments. The teens ate pizza and cake while a disc jockey played dance music.

Older students who participated in the Boys & Girls Clubs when they were younger spoke to the group about how education has shaped their lives.

Michael Holeman, a junior at Morehouse College, said he came back to speak because of how important it is for younger kids to take school seriously.

He said when you are younger, it could be difficult to get motivated to work hard in school.

But once you get started, learning is fun and rewarding. "What you do now is going to set you up for the rest of your life," Holeman said.