By Don Ford

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Castlemont High student Jasin Saunders graduated from one of the toughest high schools in Oakland after he turned his academic record around with help from a special mentor.

At first, the now 18-year-old Saunders struggled with terrible grades. With a GPA of 0.00, he was averaging below an “F.” But then he met his mentor, Oakland Police Sergeant Gordon Dorham.

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“When I met Jasin, I knew he was intelligent. Just upon speaking to him, the first time, I knew he was intelligent. So I knew this wasn’t an issue of whether he could perform in school,” said Dorham.

Sergeant Dorham convinced Saunders to join the OK Program, where police officers and other adult Black men mentor young, male African American students through school. It was eye opening for Jasin.

“Police are not always bad people, in my opinion,” said Saunders. “I think they’re good people, especially the officers I have met and come across with. I think they’re great people and they truly helped me get where I am today!”

Saunders became a star student and raised his GPA to 4.0. Now he’s headed to college behind the wheel of a special reward.

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For all his hard work, for being a positive influence in the community and maintaining the highest academic standards, the OK Boys Club and Auto Plus Towing congratulated him with the gift of a new car.

Jasin said he has known about this day for weeks.

“I’m ready to drive already! They kept pushing the days back. Man, I had a permit for a long time!” he exclaimed.

Acts Full Gospel Church Bishop Bob Jackson tells KPIX 5 that the Oakland Police Department and the OK Program are helping hundreds of boys still in the program.

“We have 289 men — young boys I should say. 289 African American boys in the Oakland OK program. And we have four police officers — real police officers — that are assigned to the boys 24 hours a day,” said Jackson.

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More information about the OK Program and how to become a mentor is available at the OK Program website.