Creve Coeur School Helps Troubled Teens

By Marc Strauss

October 19, 2011 Updated Oct 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM CDT

17 year-old John Griffith was expelled from East Peoria High School for fighting. But he's turned things around since enrolling at the Tazewell County Safe School and Academy.

"We're just like a regular family because there aren't as many kids here as a regular high school," said Griffith, who wants to study to become a mechanic.

"Its like a big family and we just kind of bond together."

Located in Creve Coeur, this alternative high school has been helping kids find direction for 15 years. But now the school needs help.

Two years ago the state funding it receives was cut by 60-percent. And that's expected to be slashed another 10-percent this year, so money to continue some curriculum is sorely needed.

That's why Tazewell County Safe School and Academy was nominated for, and received, a $1,000 One Class at a Time grant from HOI 19 and CEFCU.

"This is awesome. This is the largest check I've ever held," said Brenda Eberley, principal of the school.

"Last year our science teacher got a grant for $500 and we have a wonderful garden outside. The students grew some great vegetables and plants there and we're going to continue that with this grant."

The garden helped students learn about the germination of seed and fertilization. They used some of the vegetables they grew to make salsa and donated the rest to a local charity.

This year the school established a computer lab with 10 stations where students can participate in online learning.

There are currently 42 students at Tazewell County Safe School and Academy. But that number fluctuates as new students arrive. Eberley says for many of them it's a life-changing experience.

"We've had several students who've graduated from our program become nurses. Some kids will come back and speak to kids. We have a lawyer, we have people who sell insurance, we have workers at Caterpillar."