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Latrell Gardner: ‘I Didn’t Want to Take the Easy Way Out’

February 8, 2022 | Jeffrey Good
Latrell Gardner: ‘I Didn’t Want to Take the Easy Way Out’ Hero Image

Latrell Gardner knows he must travel a long road to earn his high school diploma. But after the road he’s been on, he sees nothing but promise ahead.

“I understand that we’re going to go through some things in life that we’re not going to be proud of,” Latrell says.

But as a newly enrolled graduation candidate at Escambia County Acceleration Academies, he’s determined to make himself and his family proud.

When he was a sophomore in a traditional high school, Latrell got into an altercation that ended with him being charged with battery and sent to a juvenile detention center.

While there, he attended an alternative school for youths in the criminal justice system.

When he emerged, however, Latrell found he was far behind in school and might need 2 more years to graduate. At 18, he didn’t want to wait that long. Nor did he want to settle for a GED.

“I didn’t want to take the easy way out,” says Latrell. “Growing up, I always wanted to be a working man and I know a diploma helps you get better jobs, better opportunities.”

Since enrolling, he says, he’s found nothing but inspiration from ECAA educators. “I’m comfortable coming to all of them and asking for help.”

He struggles with geometry, but says math coach Frank Luke gives just the right blend of help and accountability. “He doesn’t just give me the answer,” Latrell says. “He’ll try to get me on track, to get my brain flowing.”