ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- For four weeks, 30 rising 7th and 8th grade students from Alamance County will exercise, march and read books under the watchful eye of Burlington Master Police Officer Chad Laws.
"Once they get to high school, a lot of times they have developed a lot of bad habits that are hard to correct and they are not as open to constructive criticism as they are at the middle school age," Laws said.
So cadets like rising 7th grader Andres Rincon are marching for a reason.
"It helps kids be better in their lives, be respectful to their parents and other people," Laws said.
The Burlington Junior Police Academy teaches cadets life skills like team work, self-discipline and leadership. The 30 students learned of the program through parents, teachers or school counselors. At the end of the four week program, rising 8th grader Larrisa Jeffries says she will have the tools to set goals and make good decisions.
"It shows us a lot. How we are supposed to handle ourselves and I am going to follow those ways," Jeffries said.
The cadets in the program are also supported by the community through field trips and donations.