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Be careful of bad company! - Shaw urges school leavers to shun gangs, ganja

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMShanique Samuels
Audley Shaw
A section of the Spalding High School 2015 graduating class.

SPALDINGS, Clarendon:

"Mind bad company, chart your course, and know where you're going," was the advice North East Manchester Member of Parliament Audley Shaw gave to graduands at Spalding High School during their graduation ceremony last Thursday.

Shaw told the students about a young man who left high school some years ago and moved out of his parents' house as he thought he was a "big man because he had graduated high school".

Shaw said the youngster, at 19 years old, joined a gang and committed murder and was recently convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

"On his way to prison, he wrote his mother a letter telling her how much he regretted having left her and joined bad company. He was very explicit in that letter. That is why my message to you is: 'Mind bad company' because you are at a tender age and it's as if your lives have just begun, so you need to take more responsibility for yourselves. There are many more mountains to climb, but you have to know which road to take, so chart your course carefully," the MP told the 205 graduands at the ceremony, which was held on the school grounds.

He also warned students not to use marijuana because two ounces or less "free up".

"Smoking weed is not a solution. It can be a destructive force to you, so stay away from it. That's my advice to you," Shaw said.

In his keynote address, sociologist and talk show host Dr Orville Taylor challenged the graduands to seek knowledge and wisdom and not allow people to feed them negative information.

"Since slavery, we have been taught to believe the worst things about ourselves, so as high school graduates now going out into the world, use the opportunities available to you and go seek knowledge and learn the truth about our race and our people," he charged.

Taylor seized the moment and taught a few life lessons and was given a standing ovation for a well-delivered speech.