OUR OPINION: Rotary Scholars program recognizes achievement

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s academic rites of spring include the annual naming of Rotary Scholars, the top 30 students in the seventh through 12th grades, plus additional students whose superior achievement is enhanced by the number of Advanced Placement courses taken.
The Rotary Scholars class of 2013, with the added criteria, totals 205 students.
Only eight seniors received special recognition for making the honors list all six years, an indicator of the rigor mastered in achieving top recognition.
The Rotary Scholars program is a collaborative effort of the club and the Tupelo schools.
The criteria and measuring of the students’ achievement is administered by the school district using standards taking into account changes in the structure of classes and the learning environment, but the system does not play favorites.
Rotary Scholars is another benchmark showing the value Tupelo places on the quality of its public schools and the academic achievement of its students.
The event also showcases the value of parental involvement in their children’s schooling. The crowd of hundreds at the Summit Convention Center included many of the parents of the students honored.
In context, parents, schools and the students form a partnership promoting higher achievement, an asset that can enhance personal success far beyond school years.
Great emphasis is placed on parental involvement in the early school years, but in reality few parents stop caring about academic progress of their high-school-age children, and parental involvement remains an important predictor of school outcomes through adolescence.
For example, one study demonstrated that parental school involvement is associated with adolescents’ achievement and future aspirations.
It is almost certain that the parents and guardians of the Rotary Scholars honored Monday count continuing parental involvement, encouragement and other support as part of the reasons for their success.
Most of the students honored Monday would achieve at high levels even without recognition like the Rotary Scholars program, but citing exceptional achievement is a valuable encouragement in terms of making the expectations articulated in school connected to a predictable, positive culture of achievement.
Schools with clearly defined behavioral expectations and formal strategies for acknowledging and rewarding appropriate behavior are perceived as safer, more effective learning environments.
The delivery of rewards is one way in which young people learn that adults are serious about the goals they are teaching.