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Photographer accused of scamming a dozen brides also ripped off school, woman claims

Less than 24 hours after a dozen brides came forward and said they had lost thousands of dollars to Alphonso Morris, with A&T Enterprise, for wedding photography they never got, the founder of Academy of Scholars, a private school in Arlington, Florida, claimed Morris also ripped her off.

>> Watch the news report here

“At this time, it needs to be stopped. There’s too many people that trust him,” Shevonica Howell said.

>> Read more trending news 

Howell said she hired Morris in 2016 to be the band director at her school.

“I did see some red flags, I’ll be honest, on the background check, but things happen,” Howell said.

But she said that after he didn’t show up to work for 19 of the 44 instructional days, he was fired.

“He probably had about 10 kids based on how many times there was a birth or a death. I just couldn’t understand that,” Howell said.

When he left, she said, he took all the band equipment that was donated to the school.

She said she then found out he created a GoFundMe account with the school’s logo asking for donations.

“To scam the community, kids that look up to him – I don’t understand that,” Howell said.

Howell said she went to police and never heard from Morris again.

The Better Business Bureau has created a file on Morris’ businesses to help warn others.

“To hear that there were dozens of people scammed by this company and we weren’t reflecting that was disheartening,” said Shannon Nelson with the Better Business Bureau.

ActionNewsJax also found Morris was connected to another business called Snap It Photography.

A lawsuit was filed that claims Morris didn’t show up to photograph an event and it states, “This young man turned out to be a con artist."

The BBB wants people to contact the agency with complaints against Morris.

ActionNewsJax tried to contact Morris again but couldn’t get in touch with him.

Woman graduates from Naval Academy 5 years after struggling to get ex-NFL player dad's signature

Florida's military community has a new addition: Ashanti Curry of Jacksonville graduated last week from the United States Naval Academy.

>> Watch the news report here

ActionNewsJax first introduced you to Curry when she was 17 years old and her dream of attending the Naval Academy almost didn't happen.

>> On ActionNewsJax.com: ActionNewsJax helps Naval Academy hopeful get dad's signature for admission

Her smile says it all. It’s even more of an accomplishment when you consider what it took to get her here.

In 2013, the honor student faced losing her academy acceptance because it required both parents’ signatures.

Her father, former Jacksonville Jaguars player Eric Curry, was never in her life and had an arrest warrant out for unpaid child support. Her attempts to get him to sign all failed.

>> Read more trending news 

“This man has never made one decision in my life, but the most important decision that needs to be made he has that in his hands. I was very upset,” Curry said at the time.

It took phone calls to Eric Curry, his attorney, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office and eventually a temporary stay of his arrest warrant.

But finally, Curry got the signature she needed.

Now, five years later, she's graduated from the Naval Academy. Her first salute was to her stepfather, a gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Curry is now writing the next chapter to her story, a story of service that Jacksonville and our country can be proud of.

Curry's mother contacted ActionNewsJax’s Paige Kelton on Facebook this weekend with pictures and two words that were a reminder of the power one person’s story can have. The picture was of Curry’s graduation, the words – “thank you.”

Woman who went into labor during Harvard Law School final graduates

Nothing was going to stop Briana Williams from achieving her dream, not even going into labor during a final exam. 

All the hard work finally paid off for the single mother, originally from Atlanta, as she walked across the stage recently to receive her degree from Harvard Law.

Williams finished her final exam while in labor last year. This year, she carried her baby girl, who wore a cap and gown that matched her mother’s, USAToday reported.

She posted to Instagram about how difficult the past year had been, trying to finish law school while raising a newborn.

>> Read more trending news 

Williams said she had dreams of becoming a lawyer and her first choice for the degree was Harvard Law. But the hard work of getting a degree at the prestigious school was made more difficult trying to balance school, work and her baby. 

“I didn’t tell anyone that I had a baby,” Williams told USAToday. “I never missed any activity because I didn’t want anyone to think that me having a baby was holding me back.”

Three and a half weeks after she had Evelyn, Williams started a summer job. She would use what time she could, like lunch breaks, for Evelyn’s checkups.

Williams is moving to the West Coast to follow her career. She was offered a job in the litigation department in a Los Angeles law firm, USAToday reported.

And to those who find themselves in a similar situation of caring for a child while still trying to achieve their dreams, Williams says: “Try as hard as you can to do what you have to do ... Eventually you’re going to receive the glory from that. And not only that, your child is going to be even more appreciative of you and the sacrifices you made.”

Ex-resource officer at Parkland school reflects on lack of response: 'I have to live with that'

The former school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who did not enter the building where a mass shooter killed 14 students and three adults at the South Florida school on Feb. 14, expressed regret in his first public interview that he did not intervene.

>> Read more trending news

“Knowing what I know today, I would have been in that building in a heartbeat,” Scot Peterson told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie on Today, in an interview that will air Tuesday and Wednesday on the morning program.

The interview will be aired two  days after graduation ceremonies were held at Stoneman Douglas. Four of the students killed were seniors.

Guthrie asked Peterson if he could acknowledge that “You missed it,” referring to his response when Nikolas Cruz entered the building in the South Florida high school and opened fire.

“I have to,” Peterson said. “I have to live with that. You know, how could I not?

“I mean, I'm human … in the perfect world, oh, I would have said, ‘Oh, yeah, I know there was a shooter in there. Let me go to the third floor. Find this person.’”

>> Jimmy Fallon surprises Parkland students at graduation 

Peterson, 54, began working at the Parkland high school in 2010. He spent nearly three decades with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

After the incident, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel criticized Peterson’s lack of action and suspended the deputy without pay. Peterson then decided to retire.

His actions were criticized by students and parents, and President Donald Trump called Peterson “a coward.” 

The father of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Broward County that included Peterson as a defendant.

Man armed with sword robs Pittsburgh bar

A man armed with a sword robbed a bar early Monday morning in a Pittsburgh neighborhood, police said.

>> Read more trending news

The robbery was reported shortly before 2 a.m. at Brook-line N Sinker in the Brookline neighborhood.

Police said the sword-wielding man robbed the business before running away.

No injuries were reported.

Police have yet to identify a suspect.

Massachusetts graduate gets diploma, is surprised by father's return from overseas

Massachusetts high school graduate got quite a surprise when he received his diploma on Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

In a video posted by Marshfield Student Broadcasting, Marshfield High School senior Tyler Solomon was reunited with his father after receiving his diploma Saturday afternoon.

Solomon's father made the surprise return trip from a yearlong deployment overseas, and surprised his son on the football field where graduation was held.

Kindergarten class starts each day with handshake

If only our country worked like this kindergarten class. Ashley Taylor’s class starts their learning day the same way every day.

Taylor picks one of her students at Keene Elementary School in Texas to give a handshake to each and every classmate as they enter the room, CBS News reported.

She says the daily greeting could help her students’ development.

>> Read more trending news 

Taylor posted one of the daily hellos to her Facebook page where it has gone viral. She added the caption, “When I see the direction the world is heading, it reminds me what I am doing WILL make a difference.”

While the daily hello could be considered a bright spot, she said there’s meaning behind it, that it teaches her students good manners and that “someone is on their side,” Taylor told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“The school shootings have been a real eye opener,” She told the newspaper. “Maybe if some of those kids had felt like someone was on their side, things would have happened differently. I understand there are lots of factors that play into those situations. But what if, you know?”

“Sadly, lots of kids (of all ages) come to school looking for the positive interaction that they may not have experienced at home. Life can be hard for kids but it shouldn’t be at school,” Taylor told The Star-Telegram.

 

Teen graduates from both high school, college in same week

A teen from Maryland has already graduated college and he’s still not old enough to drive a car. Torrington Ford graduated from Anne Arundel Community College at the age of 15. But the educational feat wasn’t fully unexpected. 

His mother, Tarita, started homeschooling Torrington when he was only 2 years old. But she told the Capital Gazette that her son got bored after awhile. Tarita tried making the school work more difficult, so when he was 12, while doing high school-level courses, Torrington took a placement test for college. He tested into credit classes and enrolled into Anne Arundel Community College to take political science, college algebra and English.  

>> Read more trending news 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Torrington took college classes. Tuesday and Thursday, he was a high school student being homeschooled by Tarita, the Capital Gazette reported

Torrington graduated last week from from both college on Thursday and high school on Saturday.

He finished college with a concentration in science, including taking two physics classes in one semester. He also plays various sports including football, basketball, baseball and track. 

He also found he has a love for flying and will study aviation engineering at Ohio State next year. 

The family are moving from Maryland to Columbus, Ohio, WUSA reportedThe Capital Gazette reported they’re going early so he can start bridge classes in July to prepare for the fall semester and will take classes that will help him become a pilot when he graduates. He would like to be a commercial pilot, WUSA reported.

If all goes as planned, he will graduate with a degree from the Aeronautical Engineering Program before he’s out of his teens, WUSA reported.

University of Memphis to offer free tuition to fallen service members' children, spouses

Next year, the University of Memphis in Tennessee will help cover the tuition of children and spouses of fallen service members.

>> Watch the news report here

The U of M is the first college in the country to ensure students who qualify for the Folds of Honor scholarship will not have to pay for their education.

>> PHOTOS: Memorial Day’s solemn reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice

“I'm excited for Memphis to be spearheading something as exciting news,” said Celeste Von Ahnen, who lives in Memphis.

The details of the program are not finalized, but a university spokesperson told WHBQ in a statement that “there will be a possible cap on how many will be admitted and that it is only for Tennessee residents.”

>> PHOTOS: Scouts place flags on veteran graves to mark Memorial Day

According to the Commercial Appeal, the nonprofit Folds of Honor has been searching for a university to accept its $5,000 scholarship as "payment-in-full," and the U of M is the first get on board. 

The university told WHBQ that it will locate other opportunities and scholarships to make up the rest of the nearly $10,000 in-state tuition.

>> Read more trending news 

“I think it's awesome to give back to people (who) have lost and given so much. That would be awesome to give back to them, especially in ways of scholarships,” said Allyson Carneal, a student at nearby Christian Brothers University.

It is unclear how many current students at the university are on the Folds of Honor scholarship.

>> JetBlue 'saves a seat' in honor of Memorial Day

WHBQ has reached out to the university to ask about the impact of the decision. It is also unknown how the university plans to supplement the remaining tuition balance.

“I'm sure it is just an extra weight off their shoulders. I can only imagine what that is like, not having to worry about something so burdensome,” said Von Ahnen.

>> President Trump marks Memorial Day

It is a move that Memphis is the first to do, but will likely not be the last. On Memorial Day, many Americans reflected on the sacrifice of men and women who serve the country.

The University of Memphis is making sure their relatives are taken care of year-round, and for years to come.

Preschool says 3-year-old's sundress inappropriate

Preschool officials in Canada deemed a 3-year-old girl's sundress to be inappropriate, leaving parents disappointed and bewildered.

>> Read more trending news 

Sadie Stonehouse told CTV News that while the sundress goes down to her daughter Lola's ankles, officials said the shoulder straps were not wide enough. School policy requires straps to be at least two inches wide, CTV News reported. 

Stonehouse said that in order for Lola to be able to wear the sundress to preschool again, school officials told her she'd have to wear a shirt underneath it. Stonehouse chose the dress for her daughter because of a heat wave the Winnipeg area was experiencing, so she said adding a layer defeats the purpose of wearing the outfit.

The mother was at a loss of how she would explain to her young daughter why she couldn't wear the dress to preschool anymore, CTV News reported.

An official at Little Years Nursery School told CTV News that the preschool follows the dress code of the area's school division, but a Pembina Trails School Division spokesperson said there is no official dress code. 

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