EDITORIAL: Effort and honors

Tupelo Rotary Club on Monday added 185 students to its annual roll of honor for grades 7-12 in the Tupelo Public Schools, and 12 seniors were cited for having achieved the honor all six years.

The annual event, attended by hundreds of parents, club members and the students, is a wonderful community citation because it gives high visibility to students whose exceptional accomplishments sometimes don't receive the accolades deserved.

Similar commendations are extended in other Northeast Mississippi school districts, especially to seniors who are about to conclude high school with exceptional grade-point averages and many other awards for academic achievement.

At special honors-day ceremonies across the region the reward for years of conscientious study becomes tangible: The area's seniors win scholarships for study beyond high school, and the cumulative total is worth millions of dollars in tuition.

At least $3 billion in scholarships are awarded nationwide annually from sources numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

Academic achievement, in a culture that places disproportionate value on instant gratification and celebrity, usually is the kind of personal achievement that pays off in the long term more than anything else a student seeks to do well in the first 12 years of schooling.

Later in life, if all the reliable national statistics prove true, honor students are more likely to complete college and even post-graduate degrees. Then, as a result, they will earn more for themselves and their families over a lifetime career. College-graduate households from 1973 to 2004 showed income increases of 17 percent to 34 percent nationwide. The higher range increases for graduate and professional degrees.

That is the longer-term context in which the early effort shown by high school honors students should be placed.

Said six-year THS scholar Caitlin Allori, “It's a lot of hard work, a lot of nights when I wish I got more sleep and a lot of studying that I didn't really want to do but I did it,” she said. “It might not seem like a big deal in the seventh grade, but all those honors really help out with college scholarships. It's really an honor and a privilege to be a Rotary Scholar.”

Those sentiments will be repeated and amplified hundreds of times in the next few weeks across our region as seniors winning scholarships savor their achievement and reflect on the hard work that brought them this far. New challenges and successes await.

Congratulations.

To join an online discussion of this topic, log on to www.djournal.com, or respond at opinion@djournal.com for publication as a letter to the editor.