Program teaches Conway High teens about ‘life-changing mistakes’

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Some students at Conway High School got a wake up call on Thursday afternoon during a meeting for the RISE program.

RISE stands for Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence and is a program at the school designed to keep young men on the right track. On Thursday the group got advice from a local, convicted felon who is making a comeback.

“Anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up with time like I did,” said Travis Orange. He spent 14 years in prison after he was charged with two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, two counts of armed robbery and first degree murder when he was 17-years-old.

When asked what went through his mind when he got to prison, Orange said, “My life is over…when I get out there ain’t going to be nothing left for me to do. The world’s not going to accept me.”

Since his release, Orange has worked with inmates at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center as well at the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. He attended Loris High School and wanted to come to a local high school to speak with teenagers.

“They’re all 9th graders,” said Conway High School Resource Officer, Johnathan Guiles. “They’re making that transition from middle school to high school. So I think that’s the biggest thing. They need to mature, and as they mature they make mistakes, so we’re going to make sure that those mistakes….are not life changing mistakes and that they can recover from those mistakes.”

Orange told the group about his time in prison which included stories about joining gangs and being assaulted. His main message was to encourage the teenagers to pick the right group of friends so they don’t end up making mistakes.

“They don’t have to go through that if they make the right decisions now,” said Orange.

Orange hopes his story inspired those in the room.

“One thing that I appreciate in life right now is just being able to help someone along the way,” he added.