Local students honored for outstanding achievements
Special Features Editor
Cameron Callicott and fellow members of the Class of 2008 from Union City, Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools took home medallions and certificates indicating their status as Tennessee Scholars, new copies of the Dr. Seuss favorite “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” and $25 gift cards from Thursday evening’s ceremony marking their status as outstanding graduates in the prestigious program.
Callicott also left the stage of Union City Civic Auditorium, where the program was held, carrying a new laptop computer — courtesy of the program’s sponsors.
The 80 members of the 2008 Class of Obion County Tennessee Scholars included nine South Fulton seniors, 30 Union City graduates and 41 Obion County Central students preparing to enter the world beyond high school.
Each is successfully completing, this week, a rigorous course of study that includes four English and four math courses, three credits in science and in history, two foreign language studies in the same language and two technical courses in the same technical track, a fine arts course, a wellness course and a business/computer course. Many have gone beyond these basics and added a fourth science — physics — to their educational resumés, plus other “extras” in honors and AP-approved classes.
The business-led program, which exists as a partnership among school districts, local Chambers of Commerce and the business community is endorsed by the Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tennessee Business Roundtable and many education coalitions around the state.
The goal of the initiative is to prepare students to enter a university, community college, technical or vocational school, the military or the workforce with a sound educational background as a result of their experience in a more rigorous course of study than they might otherwise have considered and a commitment to community service to help them assume leadership roles in their communities in the future.
To educate students in the latter during their four-year opportunity to fulfill the requirements of the program, they are strongly encouraged to go above and beyond any public service hours their individual schools may mandate or encourage.
Local students met that goal and then some — racking up several thousand hours of community activism.
Cindy Kuberski, Union City Magnet School coordinator, was mistress of ceremonies for the evening. Jimmy Smith, Obion County School System board member, offered the invocation and Tennessee Scholars board member Mary Carpenter read Seuss’ book to the graduates and their families and guests while slides of the book’s imaginative characters were shown.
John Alston, gifted pianist who has just completed his first year of study at Berkeley College in Boston, and his sister, vocalist and music teacher Danielle Alston, provided entertainment for the evening.
Sally Wharton, OCCHS guidance counselor, introduced her long-time friend Ruth Ann Woodall, director of Tennessee Scholars statewide, who then presented medallions and certificates to the students.
Mrs. Woodall noted that the program, which is in its third year locally, had begun in Tennessee in 2004 and at the time was one of only four such projects nationwide. Today, 22 other states have seen the value of the effort and begun “Scholars” programs of their own. She noted that resumés listing a student’s involvement in the program were certain to catch the eye of potential employers because they spoke to the graduate’s effort and ability as a student. To date, 8,000 young adults in the Volunteer State are part of the innovative approach.
“More and more businesses are endorsing the program and Tennessee Scholars grows more and more prestigious. A transcript with the Tennessee Scholars stamp will mean money and clout in your future,” she told the students. She also urged them to encourage younger siblings and those students in lower grades with whom they had influence to become part of the program.
Statistics have already shown that Tennessee Scholars are better college students and better employees and they are more successful at holding on to their Tennessee lottery scholarships once they become involved in higher education, according to Mrs. Woodall. She added that the support of local business is vital.
A new initiative being introduced for students who are still in high school and are interested in pursuing a technical track will be a Tennessee Scholars effort to help them attend a state tech center virtually tuition free.
Following Mrs. Woodall’s address, Obion County Tennessee Scholars board chairmen Treesa Hundley and Sonny Yarbrough conducted a drawing for special gifts for four lucky graduates.
In addition to drawing Callicott’s name from a pool of all 2008 Obion County Tennessee Scholars, the pair also selected a name from each individual high school to receive an additional $25 gift card. Those lucky students included Heather Mitchell from OCCHS, Alexandra Burrow from SFHS and Mary Steward-Crume from UCHS.
Following the impressive program, graduates, their families and special guests were invited to a reception in the UCHS commons area. Obion County Tennessee Scholars board member Beverly Gidcumb, a representative of CBK Inc., which is a strong local supporter of the program, had planned the closing celebration.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.16.08