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South Shore Area School Officials Show Interest in Arkansas Scholars Program for 9-12th Grades
November 2004

Learning About Arkansas Scholars
Learning About Arkansas Scholars

Lee Gordon, with the Arkansas Business & Education Alliance, recently spoke about Arkansas Scholars to Marion County and Boone County school officials and community leaders. The Arkansas Scholars program takes business people into high schools to encourage students to make no semester grade below a "C," to have a 95 percent attendance record, and to enroll in courses that will prepare them for higher education after high school. Gordon’s presentation was at the invitation of the South Shore Foundation, the charitable division of NATCO at Flippin.

Along with trustees of the South Shore Foundation, school officials from six Marion and Boone County high schools and middle schools recently heard about the Arkansas Scholars program at a presentation here. The school officials said they were interested in having the Arkansas Scholars program in their schools beginning next school year, with some activities this school year.

Arkansas Scholars is a program that brings business leaders from the community into schools to stress the importance of doing well in high school so students will be better prepared for good jobs in the future.

Schools represented at the meetings were: Omaha, Lead Hill, and Bergman in Boone County; Bruno-Pyatt, Yellville-Summit, and Flippin in Marion County. South Shore Foundation, the charitable arm of Northern Arkansas Telephone Co., is proposing the program for area schools in line with its goals of advancing education and economic development in the South Shore, which includes communities on the south shore of Bull Shoals Lake.

Although it is a four-year program that students begin in the ninth grade and complete at graduation, some school officials wanted to recognize current high school students who have met the requirements on their own, before the program formally begins in the schools.

Lee Gordon of Little Rock, with the Arkansas Business & Education Alliance, said more than 75 Arkansas schools now take part in the program to encourage all students to make semester grades of C or higher, have an attendance record of 95 percent over four years, and complete courses which lead to higher education, whether at a technical school, community college, or four-year college. He said about 22 percent of graduating seniors in Arkansas schools meet those criteria.

"The Arkansas Scholars program is beginning to make a difference," Gordon said. He noted that more students are taking advanced courses and school attendance has improved among students who do participate. Gordon noted that businesses hiring students tend to think more highly of students who take more difficult courses and make a "C" than those who take easier courses and get higher grades. "It is a mistake," Gordon said, "for seniors to not take a fourth year of math." Often, seniors feel they want to ease up on studying by taking only the courses they must have to graduate.

Students who participate and meet requirements each year may receive special privileges at their schools, or may receive discounts from area businesses with their own Arkansas Scholars business-type card. Their high school transcript is designated Arkansas Scholar, and their diploma has a gold seal denoting an Arkansas Scholar. Some technical and two-year colleges in the state offer incentives to Arkansas Scholars to attend classes at their schools, up to free books and tuition-free semesters.

Gordon said the Arkansas Scholars program was started in Independence County schools in 1994 by a businessman from Longview, Texas, where it had originated. It was then implemented statewide by the Arkansas Business & Education Alliance in 1997, and more schools are still joining the program. About two years ago the U.S. Department of Education recognized the Texas Scholars and Arkansas Scholars programs and took the program nationwide under the name State Scholars.

For additional information, see the Web site of Arkansas Business & Education Alliance at www.arkansasscholars.org, or contact South Shore Foundation at:

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