MOUNT VERNON — Some people let life’s second chances pass them by, and some people make the most of those additional opportunities to turn their lives around.
One individual in the latter category is Harlen “Harley” Shelhorn, who is grateful to the folks who helped make it possible for him to be able to graduate on schedule with the Mount Vernon High School Class of 2011. His class graduates Sunday at 3 p.m.
When he was younger, his stepmother helped maintain connections between Harley, as he prefers to be called, and his father. Then his stepmother died in a motorcycle accident.
“I fell apart then,” Harley said, “and after that I started using drugs and just liked the lifestyle. I didn’t care about school or anything else like that. When I was in the drug court program, I ended up going on the run.
“I was hanging around with some bad people, and ended up driving a car that I got accused of stealing. I ended up wrecking it. I was facing two counts of vehicular manslaughter; I was only 17 and looking at 35 years to life in prison. Luckily, I got charged as a juvenile and those people [injured in the accident] didn’t die so those charges got dropped. I took a plea bargain and got six to seven months in jail. I did half that time in the juvenile detention center, then went to the county jail up here. I got out in October. Ever since then I have been trying to get my high school diploma.”
Harley has been attending the Alternative Center and has earned enough credits to graduate this year. “The staff showed that they cared,” he said, “and wanted me to graduate and helped me do that.”