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      Lowcountry students take a ride on the 'Choice Bus'

      The Choice Bus (John Gaddy/WCIV)

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Students in Charleston County got a firsthand look at the importance of finishing their education Thursday afternoon.{}

      The Choice Bus visited seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders at St. Johns High School, Haut Gap Advanced Studies Magnet and Baptist Hill Middle High School.{}

      The bus is sponsored by State Farm and the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation and is a mix between a classroom and a jail cell.{}{}

      On the classroom side, the students watched a video and heard startling statistics about the consequences of dropping out of school.{}

      For example, on average, people with diplomas make $1 million more over their lifetime than dropouts.{}

      The jail side of the bus is a demonstration modeled after a real prison cell, equipped with metal bars and bunk beds, giving students a glimpse into the life they're likely to lead if they drop out of school.{}

      "That's a concrete, real stark example of what can happen if they do not finish," said Haut Gap Principal Andrea Gadsden. "They made a 'woah' sound, and that was a great eye-opener for them."{}

      The Choice Bus is the nation's first mobile experience dedicated to reducing the dropout rate.

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