After seeing his father go to prison, a Greenwood teen knew he wanted something different for his life.

As the oldest of four siblings, Edward “EJ” Weatherspoon wanted to show his brothers that they could be successful in a career, instead of ending up in jail or prison, he said.

“Everybody told me I would never amount to nothing, that I’ll be like my dad, just another statistic,” Weatherspoon said.

“I realized that ‘You know what? I’m not going to be another statistic. This is what they want. They want me to sell drugs. They want me to follow in my dad’s footsteps.’”

Before coming to Clark-Pleasant Academy, Weatherspoon had dropped out of school and thought about giving up. He had been hoping to play sports in high school, but needed to take care of sick family members instead of playing football, he said.

When he lost the chance to play football, he became depressed, Weatherspoon said.

“I was tempted just to give up on life,” Weatherspoon said. “I was just lying in bed one day and I was just like, ‘This is not the life that I want to live.’”

Weatherspoon had started high school in Terre Haute before moving to Whiteland, he said. When he started at Clark-Pleasant Academy earlier this year, he had to make up 16 credits or else become a fifth-year senior, he said.

And Weatherspoon and his girlfriend are having a baby this summer.

“I don’t want my kid to not have a dad that graduated,” Weatherspoon said.

Now, Weatherspoon plans on moving to Texas with his girlfriend, where he’ll enroll in a junior college to study business.

“That’s all this life is about: Just keep on pushing forward instead of settling,” he said. “I went and strived for what I wanted, and that’s how I got here.”

The Weatherspoon File

Name: Edward “EJ” Weatherspoon

Age: 19

Residence: Greenwood

Graduating from: Clark-Pleasant Academy

Future plans: Attend a junior college in Texas to major in business