DALTON, GA (WRCB) -- Despite struggling with grades and being labeled a trouble maker, a Dalton teenager has walked across the stage to earn his diploma. Eric Banks says he turned his life around thanks to some teachers at Morris Innovative High School.
"I would have probably been in jail somewhere," said 18-year-old Eric Banks with a smile on his face.
Banks can say that with a smile because instead of jail he just became the second person in his family to graduate high school.
After two and a half years falling behind in and outside of Dalton High, he transferred to Morris Innovative High School and formed an instant relationship with Principal Jennifer Phinney.
"I really think he felt it wasn't in the cards to graduate high school or continue his education after high school," said Principal Phinney.
Banks says Morris taught him to overcome obstacles and allowed him to control his own destiny. Phinney says with under 300 students enrolled it allows teachers to form relationships and push the students.
Phinney says Eric's turnaround was jump started when the school created a basketball team. He got his grades up to become eligible, and the rest followed suit, "Once he had some success that was all it took. He turned one corner, and boom we were off and running."
Across the stage and onto college to hopefully play basketball. He wants to study physical education and become a basketball coach.
"The path I went down through, I can show them that's not right and keep them on the right path," Banks said.
"There's nothing stopping him. He's one of the nicest young men you'll ever meet. He has an excellent brain and a lot of determination, and there's no reason he can't do whatever it is he wants to do," added Phinney.